Sunday, May 1, 2016

Koneline: our land beautiful, Hot Docs must see

This morning, looking at the chilly drizzle and still feeling horrible, I almost cancelled today's engagement, to see my friend Nettie Wild's documentary "Koneline" at Hot Docs. But wanted so much to see it that I took some Tylenol and got dressed; Annie picked me up in her yellow Prius and off we went. So so so glad we did!

It's one of the most beautiful and powerful films I've ever seen. I urge you not to miss it. It's on only once more, but I'm sure will win many awards and come back for a commercial run. It made me understand as never before the north, the landscape, the difficulties and joys of life there, the resilience of the people, their bond with the land and their ancestors and their struggles - even the different sides of development, how the incursion of mines and power lines is not black and white, though perhaps in any case it's too late to fight them. Or perhaps not. Most of the First Nations elders, in the riveting blockade scenes, are women. Nettie follows a woman who owns a hunting operation with a dozen horses, up into the mountains. We watch the Tahltan people live their lives and intuit what will happen as the mine moves in. It's unforgettable.

As one elder woman says, How would I explain the wilderness? It's our life.

What's heartbreakingly clear is this: once this magnificent wilderness is gone, it's gone forever. We will never get it back. We're selling our souls for today, but what about tomorrow? The fate of the land, not just for now but for the ages - that's the sacred legacy the elders carry. And yet they need to survive, and the world moves relentlessly on.

This is the email I just sent:
Nettie, your film is stunning. My friend Annie who was there with me works with the Jesuit Forum on third world development, and she was knocked over - she is working on mining issues in the Honduras, the same story. You capture all the complexities, the tragedy, the glorious, incredible beauty and history of the land. How in the name of God you got some of those shots - the pack horses, the salmon rescue, the moose hunt - unforgettable. Not to mention the intimate shots inside homes, inside the pub, the trucks - I was in awe and in tears. Obviously they all trusted you completely, including the line workers and miners - the mark of a true master of documentary. 

I was just at the Creative Non-fiction Collective’s conference in Banff, and Wade Davis spoke, incredibly movingly, about his new book, "The Sacred Headwaters" - just about this, the Red Chris mine, the new power line, the Tahltan nation. And there I was, inside that world in your beautiful film. It should be nominated for a Documentary Oscar. 

It’s not polemical but at the same time, we get it, what will happen to this land and these people when the land is split wide open. We get everything. 

It’s a work of art. I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart.

Hot Docs Film Festival - KONELINE: our land beautiful

And now I'm going back to bed.


  1. Beth, please tell your friend, Nettie, that I've put her film preview on my blog. Visually stunning. There are many good documentary film festivals here in France and elsewhere in Europe. She should definitely shop that film.

  2. Thanks, Juliet - will do. I do hope the film gets to Europe - it's so breathtakingly beautiful and Canadian, the wilderness of mountains, lakes and rivers - and the threat to them and to First Nations life by "progress." Hope you get to see it.