February 22, 2016

Screens, skates

Ada at the Arena, February 2016

Berlinale (like TIFF, but German) ended this weekend, and I have it to thank for getting to watch three hours of short films screened at my work, all by indigenous film-makers. The Grandfather Drum appeared at Sundance, too. Here is a minute from Bihttos (Rebel) and another from Nowhere Land, soon to be available on the NFB's site, along with so many others. Nowhere Land is the best answer I've ever seen to the question, "Why don't they all just move to the city?"

I learned that a lot of films made by indigenous people - films with subjects and perspectives mostly new to film, maybe totally new in many cases - are either totally Canadian, or partly Canadian. Because of the support of the National Film Board.

I met Caroline Monnette during Berlinale, but I hadn't seen Roberta or Mobilize yet, so I wasted the opportunity.

We're going to try to buy some of the films we saw for the collection at the Marshall McLuhan Salon, the digital multimedia space, film/music/video archive, all-around Canada-loving room at the Embassy. The Salon showed the newly-digitalised film Reason Over Passion, by Joyce Wieland, an early experimental film/road trip movie about Canada, and fond send-up of Pierre Trudeau. Somebody thought it would be a good film to show, given the election of another Trudeau government.

It was a great idea, and lots of people came. Though, for me it is unsettling to have a leader, whatever his strengths or qualifications or performance, who is the son of another leader. I was happy to hear Canadaland and Glen McGregor calling out the existence of an aristocracy in Canada. We should be thinking about that.

These faces and voices of ours, on the other hand, didn't have a ready-made platform, but they are also worth your time.


The first year away seems so far to be the story of missed opportunities. Finding the really good skating club for my ice-mad daughter, a week before they close for the (terribly short) season. Visiting Prague but being too worn out to care about the hand-painted facades. Giving up after three months on finding an Au pair, when if I'd only known then what I know now, because I just can't face it anymore. In small victories, Jeff repaired our broken bed (we've been sleeping on a mattress on the floor, surrounded by debris, laundry and partially-unpacked boxes for six months), and, after over an hour of searching, even found the mislaid IKEA fittings.

Maybe tomorrow we can find the time to put it together. In the meanwhile, I am eating a lot of delicious German pastries.