Film Festival grows out of Prairie spirit

There is something to be said for the spirit of the people of the Canadian Prairies.

It is the spirit that helped carve out a place to live and thrive for so many new Canadians from the earliest days if western settlement.

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It is the spirit which has had companies such as Bourgault and Seed Hawk and Yorkton’s Morris Industries come into existence as company founders went into their shops and came up with Prairie-born solutions to problems found here. When the right equipment didn’t exist, it was created.

And that same spirit of creation saw a group of people gather in Yorkton in 1947 to create the Yorkton Film Council.

From that first meeting an idea began to take shape.

In a tie only a couple of decades after the first television sets were appearing, the first mechanical TV station aired its first broadcast on July 2, 1928, members of that Council in a small Saskatchewan community thought they should host an international film festival.

When you think about film from the perspective of 2019, it’s hard to appreciate what they were dreaming 62-years ago. We turn on our televisions and find a world of literally dozens of television channels there to watch.

Our computers connect us to more opportunities, with YouTube.com having content added at a dizzying rate.

But in 1947, film was still very much something that was largely new, and rare.

There was an audacity to the film council thinking this community, Yorkton just emerging from the impact of the Second World War, was a place that was well-suited to host film from around the world, but three years later the first International Film Festival was held.

The foresight of those that first envisioned the film festival is to be commended.

Even with an obvious vision it is unlikely anyone in that meeting in 1947 would have even given a thought to their film festival continuing through the decades.

But today (Wednesday) marks the start of this year’s festival.

Through the years the event has evolved starting as an international festival attracting entries from around the world, to where today it focuses on celebrating short film in Canada.

And it has not always been easy. There have been some through the years that thought the festival might best continue in another city; Winnipeg, or even Toronto.

The Yorkton Film Festival has endured, now being the longest-running film festival in North America. The Golden Sheaf Awards still seen as important in establishing careers and honouring the best in film in our country.

Sometimes locally we may not appreciate just what this festival is, but we should. It is a testament to the pioneer spirit of the past, and to the tenacity of our community to keep the festival here honouring the vision of 1947. As a community it is certainly something worthy of our pride.

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