“My People will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back.”
Each year, YKIFF tries to find at least presentation that combines film with live performance. Usually, this is represented by the band Sinister Oculus, a local band who often plays films in sync with their performances. This year, It is represented by the documentary Way Up North: An Arctic Symphony. It’s a combination of a travelogue, a music documentary and a social issue documentary rolled into one. The film made its sneak preview at the festival with an unfinished documentary short centered on the traveling youth delegate movement Listen Up!, in which award winning musicians gather together to encourage creativity with in youth, leading up to live performances. After the film, there was live performance with musicians from the film and directors PJ Marcellino and Hermon Farahi.
A group of northern artists got together in Yellowknife in hopes of starting a youth movement to get northern children interested in music and art. Thus began Listen Up!, which serves to live up to Riel’s quote. Through this film, we get to one on one interviews with well known award winning artists including writer Richard Van Camp, A Tribe Called Red and singer Susan Aglukark. But the most frequent contributors are Tanya Gillis, Buffy Saint Marie, Abe Drennon and Godson. Over the course of 18 months, these artist travel to school after school to give students an area of expression. And it all leads to the children doing a live performance at Yellowknife’s Northern Arts and Cultural Centre.
The film was supposed to be finished for this festival, but as directors Marcellino and Farahi stated, the movement became bigger and they decided the story wasn’t finished. As a result, they moved their official premier to spring of next year and presented a work in progress edition. Because this is an unfinished version, I don’t think it would right to review this film. What I will offer is tips to the directors
RANDOM RICHARDS NOTES:
Though it is doubtful the directors will be reading this, there are some suggestions for them to improve the film.
- Give the film a centre. Like music, films often have a rhythm that gives the film a focus. Not a musical rhythm, but a structural rhythm that gives the film a focus. Other wise, the film comes off as a disorganized mess, which this film comes off as. Interviews and clips come and go with no real sense of connection. It doesn’t have to be a conflict that most films use. For example, it was the right decision to use the NACC performance as the climax of the film. You could use have previous scenes as buildup to that event.
- The film moves too fast. For a film that took 2 months to edit, it sure feels rushed with all of the quick jump cuts. We are not given much time to comprehend what’s going? Even worst, we aren’t given much time to connect to the people in this film. Speaking of which
- Put more focus on the children. There are some pretty talented kids here. Notable are kids writing their own music. How about we look at how they came about making this music? What inspired them? What is their process of creation?
- Take into consideration the audience members who might not know what this movement is? It’s best to fill us in about what Listen up is and what their goal is.
- There is an interesting moment where a musician records the sound of ice cracking underwater as inspiration. Maybe have more elements like that.
That’s all I have. Like I said, it’s unlikely the directors will read this. But if they are, I hope this helps.