by Paul Falardeau (Arts & Life Editor)
Here are but four of the wonderful – and unmistakably important – films that showed at last weekend’s Mission World Community Film Festival. Be sure to check their website (missionfilmfestival.ca) for more information on these and other films.
March Point – This film tells the story of three sixteen-something Native American boys in North West Washington who have to make a video as a part of drug rehabilitation. What starts as a basic “who I am” bullshit video morphs into an examination of treaties, oil refineries, Native identity, journalism, traditional food and much more. It is a moving piece that is brimming with genuine goodwill, humour, biting sarcasm, well researched ideas and an overall sincerity and dedication that is uncommon in so many teenagers. Despite all the worthy sidetracks the boys take, the unarguable conclusion is that family and tradition matter, especially in the context of the area’s indigenous people.
Rebecca’s Wild Farm – A wonderful look at modern farming solutions in the face of an environmental crisis and a finite amount of fossil fuels left to power humanities endeavours, Wild Farm is a promising film that includes more solutions than dreary tales of doom. Put on by the BBC, and centering on a celebrated wildlife photographer’s return to her childhood farm, it is no surprise that this film is shot beautifully. What merit it has in its visual prowess is trumped by its importance in looking at ways to revamp the way we produce food. In a stroke of pure genius, the filmmakers have food working solutions that are sure to take farmers on a 180-degree spin away from the brink. What are they? Well you need to watch to find out because, well, you need to watch this.
Pray the Devil Back to Hell – A heartbreaking look at the terrible civil war that held Liberia in its foul grip, Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a gritty retelling of the terrible events that befell that country – and the women who took it upon themselves to end the suffering and the death that was happening all around them. The film becomes a triumph of the human spirit over the worst possible circumstances and shows the power of the human spirit even as it reminds us of the gruesome truths that still haunt our world like dictators and child soldiers. A must see for everyone.
The Practice of the Wild – An intimate look into the life and times of Gary Snyder, often called the poet-laureate of Deep Ecology, this film offers viewers an argument for why Snyder should be mentioned in any discussion of the world’s great poets. The main story progresses through Snyder’s hikes with fellow poet Jim Harrison and is told partly with archival footage. The tone is welcoming as Snyder has supper and reads poetry with his friend and ruminates on the topics that have driven his work: ecology, beat literature, dharma practice, watershed stewardship, Native lore and, ultimately, the cultivation of a sense of place and what that means to humanity in a rapidly growing – and equally quickly deteriorating – global world.