From Canada comes writer/director Adam Garnet Jones’ Fire Song, a powerful tale of life, despair and cultural malaise for members of the near-forgotten Anishnaabe peoples of the northern reaches of Canada’s Ontario Province.
Wolfe announced this past week that this award-winning drama will be making its domestic DVD debut on Nov. 8.
Filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones has been making short films since he was a young teen, it is a medium — for storytelling — that he has literally grown up with. And you get a sense in this, his feature film debut, that he is comfortable with the process; the storytelling process. Competent, would be the best description … and a “feel” for the medium that allows him to overcome some real challenges in bringing Fire Song to the screen.
Here, we call them Native Americans, the equivalent term in Canada is “First Nations.” This was Jones’ first challenge as a filmmaker, his cast is comprised of First Nations actors. With that comes the “baggage” of the culture that they have grown up in … not in a pejorative sense, but in the harsh reality of their community, where suicide, alcoholism and teen pregnancy are like a cancer that eats at the soul.
Jones also had to overcome difficult location shooting (and self-funding) and lastly, he has a story to tell about a “Two-Spirit” (read: gay) individual that in lesser hands could have been nothing more than a cliché.
We are introduced to Shane (Andrew Martin in his film debut), a teenager who is in deep despair as a result of the recent suicide of his sister. He is on the cusp of his departure for the outside world — to attend college — a place that he longs for; more accepting, but still alien to all he knows.
If he has been rocked by his sister’s death, his mother, Jackie (Jennifer Podemski — Empire of Dirt, Moccasin Flats, Fugitive Pieces, etc.), is inconsolable in her grief. Does he just abandon her during this difficult period?
He has also maintained a relationship with Tara (Mary Galloway), perhaps to disguise his true nature from a community with deep prejudices, who has some troubling problems of her own. She is his friend, they have a special bond, but does he just abandon her to a father who is well beyond the bounds of decency?
And then there is David (Harley LeGarde), his partner … they have their secret and their plans to get away to Toronto where their secret doesn’t have to be such a secret.
It is a complex tapestry of emotions and traditions that Shane must work his way through; a landscape fraught with peril. With Fire Song there is both this sense of dread — one suicide can set off a whole wave — and a sense of hope; of a future.
Filmmaker Adam Garnet Jones delivers a strong, emotional film that is well worth ones time to discover … mark Nov. 8 on your home entertainment calendar.