Wednesday 31 July 2019

Canada Now Season at Edinburgh Filmhouse

I have only one complaint about the Filmhouse at the moment and that is that they are showing more excellent films than I really have time to see! One of their current seasons is Canada Now, which is screening a variety of films from Canada. I've seen two of them, which I review below.

Edge of the Knife is a Haida language film about pride, tragedy, and penance in a traditional community in Canada in the 19th century.

The story follows two communities (each speaking a different dialect of Haida) coming together to prepare for winter. The film shows in detail some aspects of their everyday tasks and rituals and how in tune they are with their natural environment. One day, tragedy strikes and a young man dies in a canoeing accident. Adiits’ii feels responsible for this and runs into the woodland where he is mentally and physically pushed to the brink and becomes Gaagiixiid/Gaagiid - the Haida Wildman.

The parts of the film that show  Adiits’ii in the woods are intense and disconcerting, but engrossing. Will his community be able to find him and help him to come to terms with his guilt and live among them again?

This is based on a traditional Haida story, an ideal vehicle for making a film in the Haida language.

The film has had a huge role in increasing the pride of the local communities in learning and speaking Haida which had only 20 native speakers before filming began. You can read about some of this process in this article on the BBC website.

It had one screening at Edinburgh Filmhouse recently but hopefully it will get more screenings in the future.

Wikipedia has an interesting page about the development of this film

For those who Don't Read Me is an entertaining, moving story inspired by the life and work of the Québécois poet Yves Boisvert. As the film opens he is shown struggling to keep a roof over his head and essentially drifting from poetry club to bar to friend's house. He starts a relationship with Dyanne but struggles to get on with her son Marc.

The film is beautifully made and very amusing while making some intelligent comments on trying to make it as a poet or other creative and about running a small press.

You can read more about the Canada Now season here.

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