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Yorkton Film Festival acknowledged for its longstanding excellence

At the recommendation from the Yorkton's Civic Recognition Awards Committee the Yorkton Film Festival was presented a Certificate of Achievement .
Golden Sheaf Awards
The Golden Sheaf Award has long been a symbol of the Yorkton Film Festival which was honoured by the city Monday. (File Photo)

YORKTON - The Yorkton Film Festival has received some added recognition from the city it has called home for more than 75 years. 

At the recommendation from the city’s Civic Recognition Awards Committee that the Yorkton Film Festival be presented the City of Yorkton Certificate of Achievement for international, national, and provincial recognition for excellence in the arts and culture industry. 

In addition, the city offered special congratulations and recognition for the Festival’s 75th anniversary in 2022, being the longest running continuous film festival in North America, explained Jessica Matsalla - City Clerk with the city at the regular meeting of Yorkton Council Monday. 

“The Certification of Achievement is developed to provide the Mayor and City Council with a meaningful and enduring way to recognize citizens of extraordinary achievement,” explained Matsalla as background to the award. 

Yorkton residents who achieve international, national or provincial excellence in business, education, academics, science and technology, community service, the arts, or sports may be considered for this very special honour.

“Although the Yorkton Film Festival is not an individual, it has put this city on the map for arts and culture by its claim to be the longest continuous film festival in North America,” offered Matsalla.  

“In 1940, the National Film Board implemented a film distribution network with an aim to bolster the spirit of Canadians during World War II. After the war, the NFB saw funding cuts, and so other solutions were sought. Starting as the ‘Yorkton Film Council’ in 1947, the Festival has an extensive rich history which has been thoroughly captured by historian Kathleen Morrell. In fact, it had its premier showing at the old City Hall auditorium and an opening address by former Mayor Charles A. Peaker.” 

In addition, “The Yorkton Film Festival is also known for awarding the prestigious Gold Sheaf Award -- first given in 1958. The history according to the YFF website, is that in 1956, Winnipeg Free Press Film Critic Frank Morris suggested that the festival needed an award to call its own. Recalling his travel from Winnipeg to Yorkton, his suggestion to the film council was based on the golden fields of wheat he drove by. The Golden Sheaf Award remains a “staple of the festival and has truly become the unique and respected image of the festival”,” said Matsalla. 

Tom Seeley, a member of the city committee said the Film Festival has made an outstanding contribution to the city through the years and was certainly worthy of the recognition. 

Ron Irving, co-chair of the festival noted the event “would not be here without the support of the city,” adding he had to thank the city “for the amazing support the past 76 years.” 

City Councillor and festival executive director Randy Goulden added it would be remiss not to thank “all the volunteers who make the festival every year.”