Posted on March 8, 2010 by Tia Lalani

Christopher Thrall talks to Maria Millang, Nordlys Coordinator, about a terrific weekend of film and arts at Augustana.

By Christopher Thrall –

“What a wonderful gift to our community – Thank you!”
“Great films, great entertainment and great food!”
            – Nordlys Film and Arts Festival comment cards

The First Annual Nordlys Film and Arts Festival was a great success! Over 140 people attended over the two-day festival named after the Norwegian word for the northern lights. Both attendees and organizers were delighted with the results.

“We got the feel and flow right,” says Maria Millang, Festival Coordinator. “The Festival appealed to the community, to students, faculty, alumni and the former organizers. Now, we build it bigger and better!”

Mardell and Verlyn Olson, MLA for Wetaskiwin-Camrose, were equally pleased with the evolution of the Pretty Hill Film Festival they ran for the past ten years. “They were grateful for the opportunity to enjoy the event,” says Millang. On the Thursday night before the Festival, usually frantic with planning, decorating and mini-emergencies, the Olsons took a walk together. “Mardell looked up into the night sky and saw the most beautiful Northern Lights she had ever seen,” Millang describes. “They knew that this year was perfect for a change to Nordlys.”

The first night’s Black and White theme brought out guests dressed in everything from formal attire to outrageous creations. The “cosier” Saturday theme invited people to bring their pillows and blankets. Throughout the Faith and Life Chapel, kitschy pictures and unique bric-a-brac reminded attendees of the Festival’s roots in the Olsons’ home. The Coffee House downstairs was converted into an Olympic update centre, where fans cheered the Canadian men’s curling team to victory between films.

The Festival’s Opening Ceremonies began with David Samm’s bagpipes, and welcomed guests into the poi art display by Holly Chappell. Films featured during the event ranged from action to comedy and heavier dramas, from English and French Canada, Romania, Iran and Norway. There was plenty of opportunity to talk, share perspectives, and meet new friends between films. Afterwards, attendees marked their ballots for the Festival’s awards.

The Pretty Hill Award – formerly the Peoples’ Choice – was granted to “The Necessities of Life”. The story followed an ill Inuit man, forcibly transported to Quebec City, who befriends a young orphan boy and regains the will to live while sharing his culture. The Critic’s Choice Award – determined by guests who viewed at least five films – went to a second ballot between the two Canadian films of the Festival, and “The Necessities of Life” barely beat out “Fugitive Pieces”. This film followed a man whose life is haunted by his childhood experiences as an orphan in WWII Poland.

The Festival was rounded out by several local musicians who won new converts among the Festival-goers. Many people didn’t realize the amount of talent we have in Camrose: to the delight of attendees, students, alumni and the community performed classical, choral, acoustic and rock music. The after-party at Scalliwags on Saturday night went to the wee hours, with the Colloquials getting most of the crowd moving.

The Nordlys Film and Arts Festival has big plans for next year, building on the tradition started by Verlyn and Mardell Olson. They will reach out to more members of the community, more students, faculty and alumni. The organizers would like to recognize the people who purchased AIDS Angels and donated to Grannies to Grannies for Africa.

The success of Nordlys, however, depended a great deal on its supporters: the organizers and attendees would like to sincerely thank the following businesses for their help, this year and in the future.
• Blockbuster Camrose
• Camrose Arts Society & Arts Centre
• Hoyme Manufacturing
• The Lefse House

• Lowell Dahlman (for complete 5.1 Dolby surround sound)
• Merchants’ Tea and Coffee House
• Norsemen Inn
• Pizza 73
• ScotiaBank
• the Augustana Alumni Association
• the University of Alberta

Please visit nordlysfestival.com for updates and information on next year’s event. See you there!


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