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Friday, Jan 04, 2002

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New trends in Canadian cinema

Jessica Pare and Dan Aykroyd in "Stardom"... dreamy side of the tinsel world.

IN CONNECTION with the Think Canada Festival being inaugurated in various metropolises of India, a package of films called Northern Lights was screened at the Film Chamber of Commerce venue recently. The event was inaugurated by the Canadian Ambassador, Peter Sutherland.The films which were screened were ``Love Come Down" by Clement Virgo, ``Maelstrom" by Dennis Villeneuve, ``Possible Worlds" by Robert Lepage, ``The Law of Enclosures" by John Greyson, ``New Waterford Girl" by Allan Moyle, and ``Stardom" by Denys Arcand. It has to be mentioned that all the films have won awards and acclaim in the film festivals held in Canada. Seeing the films one realised that nothing much is known about the movies of Canada. To a regular cinema-goer they appear to be very different in technique, theme and emphases from the cinemas of Hollywood, European or other English speaking areas. They have an identity of their own, born out of their specific geography, climate, the social and political customs and the cultural identity of the people. The abstract and the surrealistic find a prominent place in these films. The other deep concern etched in the films is their closeness to natural elements such as water, mountains, snow and sea. The images have a fluidity and ethereality which enhance the dream/illusion quality. Another important aspect of these films is their multicultural and multifaceted approach.

``Love Come Down" is a romantic drama, the gripping tale of two brothers in their early 20s, one white and the other black, each the other's keeper, torn apart by a decade old tragedy. The resolution or the climax, is a surprise. It goes through all kinds of distortions and violences before love ultimately wins. ``Maelstrom" is the story told by a fish that is about to be killed. The fish is in fact, the centre point of this aquatic opus. The director views this film as a dark comedy, that is not funny. It brings out his fear of death and other people. Water is used as an all purpose symbol. ``Possible Worlds" is probably the best film in the series. The plot line verges on the indescribable. It is the tale of George Barber, a man who has the ability to consciously experience his existence in a multitude of lives, leaving him confused and disoriented. While he remains the same, his environment morphs, resulting in his on-going state of confusion and disorientation. Joyce is a common thread. The changing nature of her presence is what affects him most. She might shun him or love him, or ruthlessly use him with no forewarning. At the end of it all he is murdered. The search for the culprit brings in a detective element to the film. But, it is the possibilities of multiple existences in a single life which is fascinating. Here again, water as a symbol of life plays an important part.

``The New Waterford Girl" has as its centre a 15-year old girl, who is different from people of her age. In order to escape from the constricting surroundings she takes extreme measures.

She succeeds in finally convincing her parents that her intentions are genuine. There is pathos as well as humour in this film. It also shows the angst of younger people who, forced to be part of a small society, are rearing to explore new avenues.

Sarah Polley and Brendan Fletcher in "Law of Enclosures"... thought-provoking.

``Stardom" traces the tempestuous life of a hockey player turned model Tina. It exposes the superficiality and falseness of the tinsel world. It also gives us a glimpse of how ruthless the managers of models can be. The owning tendencies of patriarchs have also been exposed. Probably this film is too long as it meanders through mishap after mishap the heroine encopunters before finally finding peace in an ordinary existence. Not a very unusual film, but still engaging and thought-provoking.

The ``Law of Enclosures" is probably one of the most disturbing films in the series, because it evokes memories close to our own lives. A marriage which began with love and expectations, slowly crumbles, through indifference, wrong priorities. A love which is very strong and yet cannot find expression because of the casual and unthinking behaviour of the man. The finale is poignant.

Just when they resurrect their love, the man is killed and his words are meaningful. ``It is better this way, otherwise we would have botched it."


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