March 15, 2019
You might wonder how trash heaps fit with the annual arts, culture, and film extravaganza that was South-by-Southwest 2019. The answer comes straight out of Yellowknife.
Yellowknife’s iconic garbage dump, along with some of its most colourful personalities, took centre stage at the conference as the new documentary Salvage had its world premiere at the illustrious showcase in Austin this week.
Salvage is an ode to Yellowknife’s dump — one of the last remaining municipal landfills in North America which still allows wide scale salvaging. The community fostered through the dump, its unique cast of characters, and their fierce defense of the institution drew New York-based director Amy C. Elliott to the capital to shoot the film.
The film features many familiar faces from the capital. Few will be surprised Walt Humphries — esteemed writer of the Tales From The Dump column in the Yellowknifer newspaper — plays a big role. Fellow junkthusiasts Diane Baldwin and Velma Sterenberg play strong supporting roles.
Baldwin and Sterenberg brought the charm of the north to the premiere — appearing as guest panelists for the question and answer session with Elliott following the screening.
A film premiere with a well-known director featuring the capital city, the creative industry elite in tow, offered a huge opportunity for the NWT to show off its unique sights, stories, and spirit to an important audience.
That’s why the NWT Film Commission stepped in and made sure the funds were available for Baldwin and Sterenberg to round out the premiere with local characters.
“For a film so dependent on the unique cast of characters you find in Yellowknife, adding that local flavor was essential to getting that audience the full picture of what we have to offer,” says Film Commissioner Camilla McEachern.
“It was an opportunity on a big stage for our territory to build its profile — whether for producers looking for a unique locale, or for industry types looking for a weird and wonderful place to explore on their next vacation.”
It’s an example of the film commission’s work to attract guest producers. That's one part of their function — the other being fostering the local film scene and its talent. And ultimately, it’s all part of the GNWT’s work to diversify the local economy.
As Salvage continues its release push, new audiences will be introduced to the Northwest Territories and its potential as a location for productions. That's good news for a local industry constantly working to move to the next level.