Wally Schumann: Developing the NWT Film Sector

Delivered on March 8, 2017

Mr. Speaker, investments in the NWT film sector are growing the strength and diversity of our economy while promoting the unique sights, sounds, and stories of our territory worldwide.

We have made the commitment to support the film industry through investments in skill development, infrastructure, marketing and communications.  We are fulfilling this commitment through the work of the NWT Film Commission and its ongoing implementation of our government’s film strategy.

Today, I would like, to celebrate some of the successes achieved through our continued work and investment in this area.

I begin, Mr. Speaker, with the continuing success of The Sun at Midnight an entirely-local production that was filmed near Fort McPherson.  This film has been on the road, with showings at the Whistler Film Festival, Victoria International Film Festival and, most recently, at the European Film Market; part of the Berlinale International Film Festival - and one of the world’s largest film showcases.

Along the way, its cast and crew have collected positive reviews, accolades and awards for their work.  

Through the NWT Film Commission, our government has invested in the film’s marketing and promotion to highlight the world-class sights, sounds, and talent of our territory and its film sector. 

Mr. Speaker, The Sun at Midnight is only one of many NWT-produced films that our Film Commission is supporting.    

Three Feathers, based on the Richard Van Camp graphic novel — has just completed filming near Fort Smith.  It will be produced in English, Cree, Chipeweyan, and South Slavey; a significant challenge that reflects the ambition of the NWT’s film community.

Meanwhile a third feature-length film, Dark Sky has been awarded one of the coveted top three positions in the Indie-Can-20-K competition.  Again, the Department of ITI is pleased to have invested in Dark Sky’s post-production and in its success.

Mr. Speaker, building a film industry in the NWT is about more than just film projects.

Our support includes initiatives to increase the industry’s profile, encourage greater participation and develop the technical capacity and skills of those working in it.  This was indicative through our sponsorship of the 5th Annual Dead North Circumpolar Film Festival.

As a result of the festival, the film Bait, by first-time Yellowknife contributor Keith Robertson - was selected to screen as part of Telefilm Canada’s Not Short on Talent Program during this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.

In other areas, we have worked closely with guest producers to connect them with locations and talent within our territory.  This has provided both greater profile for our locations and opportunities for NWT residents to get valuable on-set experience.

Most notably, we have also worked with the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk to develop the first local film policy in any of our territory’s small communities.  There has been a great deal of interest from production companies interested in both the final ice road between Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk and next year’s opening of the highway. This will position the Hamlet to realize benefits from local and guest productions filming in the community.

Finally, and in partnership with CanNor, we are expanding the branding and marketing of our NWT Film Commission to push our international competitiveness to a new level.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT’s film sector continues to be a dynamic industry offering economic and artistic opportunities.   The strong, growing network of film professionals shows the potential of this industry.   The GNWT is committed to providing the support and funding necessary to realize this potential and position our film sector among our country’s elite.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.