It’s a good week for film, as the Qwanlin Cinema presents the last in its fall season of the Arts Film series, and the Yukon Film Society presents a musical double bill in its Firehall Films series.
Wednesday night features two documentaries. Ferron: Girl On A Road and Sounds Like A Revolution play at the Old Firehall, while the feature at the Qwanlin on Sunday and Monday is the independent film Get Low.
Born Debby Foisy in Vancouver in 1952, Ferron is a Canadian folk singer who has never cracked the Top Twenty, but whose fans are legion worldwide. Of Cree, French Canadian and Ojibway ancestry, she has been the inspiration for a multitude of feminist musicians and groups, including the Indigo Girls, Michelle Shocked, Ani Di Franco and the Be Good Tanyas. Her voice is totally unique, and her songs are rough-hewn and uncompromisingly honest.
Canadian director Gerry Rogers, of My Left Breast fame, accompanied Ferron on a tour in 2008. Ferron had reunited with her old band after a disastrous record deal with Warner Brothers had almost destroyed her career and precipitated a long hiatus where the singer refused to tour or record for years.
Rogers’ resulting film is part performance, part biography and totally frank.
Ferron talks openly in extensive interview sequences about a troubled childhood and adolescence clouded by abuse, coming to terms with her own openly gay lifestyle, and her past emotions of shame about her native ancestry.
Ferron: Girl On A Road has played extensively on the North American film festival circuit in the past year. It won Best Documentary Award at Honolulu’s Rainbow Film Festival, as well as Audience Awards at festivals in Ottawa, Toronto and Hartford, Connecticut.
Sounds Like A Revolution is also Canadian-made, directed by Toronto filmmakers Summer Love and Jane Michener. It’s a musical study of the fate of protest music in the times of Bush and Obama, as opposed to its golden era in the ’60s and ’70s.
Featuring the music of contemporary artists such as Michael Franti and Pittsburgh’s Anti-Flag, as well as interviews with earlier stalwarts like David Crosby and the Dixie Chicks (whose songs were banned from radio after they dissed George Bush), the film makes the point that protest songs haven’t really disappeared.
Rather, they’re just harder to get heard. Radio mega-giant corporations dominate the airwaves, like Clear Channel with its choke-hold on 1,200 US stations. Or there’s Walmart, which controls distribution of music to its outlets so tightly that anything that suggests political controversy isn’t carried by its stores.
You Tube, My Space and hip-hop have largely filled the void, narrowcasting to an audience that’s perhaps more select, but may ultimately carry more influence.
Sounds Like A Revolution is an interesting and thought-provoking blend of music and sociology that’s well worth watching.
Get Low is an entertaining look at what happens when someone decides to hold their own funeral, while they’re still alive. Starring Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray, it’s based on an actual event that happened in Depression-era America.
In the summer of 1938 in Roane County, Tennessee, a bushy-bearded bachelor named Felix Breazeale, known in the region as Uncle Bush, started to carve out a large walnut tree on his property to fashion a coffin for himself. News of his plans soon spread. Enticed by a lottery where he planned to raffle off his property, some 12,000 people gathered from 14 states for the occasion.
In the film, the 79-year-old Duvall plays the fictional Felix Bush, a crotchety old hermit who rides into town on his mule. He informs the local clergy of his intention to “get low,” and to hear what the local citizenry have to say about him in eulogy while he’s still alive.
There are hints of a mysterious past, an involvement years ago with a local widow played by Spacek, and all sorts of whispers among the townsfolk. Bill Murray plays a sharpie funeral director who matches Duvall’s stern countenance with his own deviousness.
Ferron: Girl On A Road plays Wednesday, October 20 at 7:00 pm and Sounds Like A Revolution plays at 9:00 pm, both at the Old Firehall. Get Low plays Sunday, October 24 at 5:00 pm and Monday, October 25 at 7:00 pm, at the Qwanlin Cinema.