The Yorkton Film Festival celebrated its 65th anniversary this year, and for only the second time in that history, the best film in the festival was a Saskatchewan production. To Make a Farm, directed by Steve Suderman, follows five young people as they set about starting small-scale farming operations. The film took home three Golden Sheafs, Documentary Nature/Environment, Best of Saskatchewan Ruth Shaw Award, and Best in Festival. Jackie Dzuba, editor for the project, accepted the awards.
The only other time a Saskatchewan film won Best in Festival was Silent Bombs in 2010, and Dzuba was the editor on that film as well. She says that while she wishes that Suderman was able to attend the festival himself – he is currently touring with screenings in Manitoba – winning on the 65th anniversary with Ruth Shaw in the room was a special event.
“It’s very emotional, especially in these difficult times in the industry. I’m so proud of the film that Steve made, and it’s so relevant to these times... his passion and commitment to getting messages out to the public about the environment and food and farming,” Dzuba says.
The genesis for the film comes from Suderman’s history, Dzuba says, as he grew up in a farming family that couldn’t compete with larger farms.
“He has a very strong passion about agriculture and the direction agriculture has taken, that it’s leaving the small farmer behind. Industrialized agriculture is not great for the world, and these are young farmers who want to make a difference in the world, don’t come from an farming family, and feel very dedicated and passionate about supplying good, healthy food to people and we don’t realize how we’re not getting that,” she adds.
She says the film was an inspiring project to work on, and that she “wanted to be a farmer” after cutting it together.
The night was a mix of celebration and uncertainty, as many of the filmmakers are concerned about the state of the industry in the province, especially in light of the elimination of the film tax credit. Many of the presenters and winners expressed support for the Saskatchewan film industry, encouraging those in attendance to fight to keep the industry alive. Dzuba says she’s worried about what happens next, and that she doesn’t believe her project would have been possible without the tax credit.
“The film tax credit is a great part of financing films. Without that little bit of financing a lot of stuff just doesn’t get made or can’t get made. It’s a really unfortunate thing that’s happening.”
She says that she has been in the industry since the beginning, and that the filmmaking community in the province has worked hard and made large sacrifices to get a viable industry. She says that having the rug pulled out from under them is very disheartening and frustrating.
While the problems in the industry are frustrating, Dzuba says that the Yorkton Film Festival is a festival with a lot of history and heart, and that she’s proud to bring home awards.
“It’s a really big deal because there’s so much heart in the festival that you just don’t get from festivals you’re not a part of. Saskatchewan is such a strong community, and to have your peers select a Saskatchewan film to be the top award in the festival is tremendous,” Dzuba concludes.