The Pulse: Jan. 12, 2023

Here's what you need to know about Edmonton today.

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  • -7°C: Mainly cloudy. Fog patches. Wind up to 15 km/h. High minus 7. Wind chill near minus 14. (forecast)
  • 6-2: The Edmonton Oilers (22-18-3) defeated the Anaheim Ducks (12-26-4) on Jan. 11. (details)

A scene from Skinamarink, featuring a child sitting in the dark, faintly lit in blue and looking off-screen

Edmonton-made viral horror film heads to theatres

By Paula Kirman

Film-goers will soon get a chance to see the homegrown horror sensation Skinamarink in theatres, as the low-budget, highly scary movie gets a legitimate release after going viral in pirated form online.

The film's trailer caused a modest stir in some online circles early in 2022 and again that summer. The entire film ended up leaking during a European festival tour after a third-party provider hosting films for virtual viewings was hacked.

"I was in a panic when it happened," writer and director Kyle Edward Ball told Taproot. "I thought it would ruin the formal release of the film."

His distributor assured him the future of the film was still bright, and it continued to blow up online. "I was upset the film had been pirated, but in the end, I was still thrilled that so many people loved the movie," Ball said.

The film was acquired by horror streaming service Shudder and secured a theatrical run via IFC Midnight, which will bring it to select theatres in various cities, including Edmonton at Metro Cinema on Jan. 13, 14, and 18.

Getting Skinamarink seen across Canada, the U.S., the UK, and Australia is "a dream come true," said Ball. Screening it at home, where he shot it for about $15,000 on equipment borrowed from the Film and Video Arts Society of Alberta, will be an experience, especially on opening night.

"I'm excited for the Metro screening but a bit nervous about doing a cast and crew Q&A," he said. "I have no problem talking to an audience of complete strangers, but talking to an audience of people in my hometown somehow makes me very nervous."

In its year-end review, the Edmonton Screen Industries Office highlighted the release of Skinamarink as "something to look forward to." Executive producer Edmon Rotea hopes it will inspire others to create.

"Skinamarink is proof to aspiring and emerging filmmakers in Edmonton and around the world that you don't need big-budget, expensive cameras, famous actors, and lots of money to make a feature film — just a strong dedication to your creative vision and supportive friends, family, and a community who are willing to support and nurture your vision to fruition," he said.

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Headlines: Jan. 12, 2023

By Kevin Holowack

  • The stagnant weather that put Edmonton in the moderate to high risk category for pollutant levels this week will last until a strong weather system arrives to shake up the atmosphere, which Environment Canada meteorologist Jesse Wagar said could happen this weekend or next week. Wagar added that early morning and rush hour are generally the worst periods for air quality and cautioned not to rule out the chance of another stagnant weather event.
  • Data obtained by CBC News revealed that Alberta Health Services recorded 91 frostbite amputations during the 2021-2022 winter, a dramatic increase over the previous year and the highest of any year since 2011. AHS also recorded a significant increase in frostbite diagnoses, even compared to other colder-than-average winters in the past decade. The data does not include demographic information, but Sandy Dong, an emergency room doctor, said the "vast, vast majority" of people who had amputations because of frostbite were experiencing homelessness. "I think you can draw a straight line between our housing crisis and these outcomes," Dong said.
  • Data released by the Opposition NDP shows there were 16,318 unstaffed paramedic shifts in the Edmonton metro area in the first 10 months of 2022, which the Health Sciences Association of Alberta (HSAA) said represents a 15.5% vacancy rate. "(These) thousands and thousands of unfilled shifts are the reason why we don't have the trucks on the road to respond to 911 calls," said HSAA president Mike Parker. "This running of perpetual code red is harming our people." The province has said it would address EMS issues by outsourcing non-urgent patient transfers to alternative vehicles like shuttles and taxis, but some Alberta ambulance associations say the problem stems from a lack of registered paramedics.
  • The city said it is "actively monitoring shortcutting" through residential areas while the Stony Plain Road Bridge is being replaced as part of the Valley Line West LRT expansion and will "address emerging situations as they arise." Stony Plain Road between 129 Street and 131 Street will be closed until fall 2024, with vehicle and pedestrian traffic rerouted to 102 Avenue or 107 Avenue.
  • Edmonton was ranked #1 in the Canadian Home Builders' Association's 2022 Municipal Benchmarking Study, which examined 21 municipalities across the country for the impact of their development processes on housing affordability and supply. The study states Edmonton "ranks highest in utilizing tools and features that are thought to have an impact on the ability of municipalities and applicants to deliver housing supply in a timely and efficient fashion."
Cover art for Taproot Edmonton's Bloom, brought to you by Edmonton Unlimited]

Connector finds myriad ways to boost innovation

By Karen Unland

In Episode 44 of Bloom, Technology Alberta president Gail Powley discusses the power of attention and connection when it comes to nurturing innovation.

Powley is one of those people who seems to be everywhere. In addition to her work with Technology Alberta and the ASTech Awards, she is also a member of Edmonton Unlimited's Innovation Growth Council, and she recently joined the board of the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

"We've got to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. So that is why I'm in many of these things," she said. "And then I stay in them when I see that their intentions are solid, are positive, and they are looking for ways to get community involved."

Innovative companies need attention, not only so they can find customers, but also to connect with job-seekers, Powley said.

"Let's spread the word so that they can attract talent and grow here in Alberta," she said. "That's one of the limitations of companies — if they can't find people to hire, then they move to markets where there's lots of people that that would fit their hiring profile."

Technology Alberta took on the NExT Level careers program to help solve that problem. The provincially funded program offers tech companies $2,000 to pay a part-time contractor to work on a short-term project, making connections that can lead to so much more.

"It's meant to take away an obstacle where a company is often saying ... 'I'd like to hire someone, but I'd have to find the funds later,'" she said. "This helps you not wait. It helps you do it now."

You'll hear more about that program, along with plans for this year's ASTech Awards and updates on Gummy Nutrition Lab, Nanoprecise Sci Corp, Deeleeo, and RUNWITHIT Synthetics in the Jan. 12 episode of Taproot's podcast about innovation in Edmonton.