Programmed by Naomie Décarie-Daigneault
Under the tent, men are gathered around a fire. Today, they trapped a beaver, as in the old days, using the old methods. As they skinned it, they remembered the legends handed down for generations and the adventures they experienced when they roamed the forest while respecting their own laws. It was then that they lived in the heart of Innu land, not so long ago…
A word from Tënk
A shot of the white horizon, the setting sun. A woman’s voice says, “Before, we hunted on the land all year long. But we’ve lived on the coast for 27 years now.” An elder’s chant rings out. A face in close-up, filmed in black and white. “That used to be my song. Before, when I hunted.” A high, reedy voice resonates. The drum resonates. The viewer, taking in these images, resonates.
Following the chant unfurl images of Nitassinan, Innu territory. Men, their faces lined with age, tell stories of hunting and fishing.
A disappearing world. A thousand-year-old culture asphyxiating in pre-fab housing.
Words alone cannot express what it means when a culture goes extinct. It is hard to imagine the extinction of a plant or insect. But a culture, a social organization, a lifestyle, a system of beliefs, a language…losing these is a tragedy that can’t be named. We experience it in fleeting moments with a film, a book or a myth that give us access to that lost culture’s knowledge. The pain of a wound that we feel where our bodies keep their humanity.
We can never feel what the elders feel, balanced between two worlds, aware that their own passing will widen the gulf that consumes their history. We can never put ourselves in the shoes of their grandchildren, for whom the city exists as the only available horizon.
But film, or art, more broadly, can trip up the march of history and create invisible links between the past and present. It can help us imagine a culture’s resurgence: blended, extended, reclaimed, living.
Tënk’s Artistic Director