Bloor Cinema Release: Konelīne: Our Land Beautiful
By John Corrado
★★★★ (out of 4)
A haunting and visually stunning cinematic tone poem, and winner of the Hot Docs Best Canadian Feature award, Konelīne: Our Land Beautiful is a gorgeously captured documentary that offers a powerful and moving hymn to living in harmony with the land.
Director Nettie Wild doesn’t confine the film to a single narrative arc, instead introducing us to a diverse group of people living in a remote British Columbia community that is home to the Tahltan First Nation, giving us a balanced look at their way of life and how it is threatened by corporate interests of mining companies. Among others, we meet a woman who trains horses to take visiting hunters into the mountainous terrain, a man recording phrases from the traditional Tahltan language before his father slips away into Alzheimer’s, and an older and younger hunter who are going out to track a moose.
But the landscape is changing as helicopters fly in giant transmission towers that start to stand amongst the trees, and the environment is threatened by a gold and copper mining operation that employs some of the locals at the expense of destroying the environment. The camera watches with a nonjudgmental eye as we are introduced to some of the workers who rely on the mine to support their families, powerfully contrasted by many of the Native elders who block the trucks in protest, trying to preserve their land.
The breathtaking cinematography captures the striking panoramic vistas of this natural landscape in glorious CinemaScope. Every frame is visually arresting, from shots of the vast sky and sweeping mountains, to disturbing and starkly composed images of gutted fish and blood dripping out of a freshly shot moose in one visceral sequence. The sound work does an equally impressive job of immersing us in the captivating rhythms of the land, adding up to one of the most mesmerizing and profoundly affecting cinematic experiences of the year. See this one on the big screen. It’s spectacular.
Konelīne: Our Land Beautiful is now playing in limited release at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto, tickets and showtimes can be found right here.