The first event of WordFest was a bit different if I may say. Instead of featuring a writer and his or her work, it featured a movie about five writers and the landscape that later led to their works. So I it still fits the theme!
Northwords is a documentary looking at the North, its people, and their connection to the land. Narrated by Shelagh Rogers, the film follows five writers as they head to an isolated park on the Northern tip of Labrador, along the Torngat mountains. Noah Richler, present at the event, along with Sarah Leavitt, Alissa York, Rabindranath Maharaj, and Joseph Boyden travel with Shelagh Rogers to experience this remote location and to be inspired by all it has to offer.
After the viewing, Noah read the story he wrote, inspired by his trip; a funny and moving tale that uses the entire liability release form each writer signed before leaving. He was then joined by narrator Shelagh Rogers for a little Q&A session with the audience.
In the film, each writer is interviewed about their impressions of the land they visit for a week, and not surprisingly, each finds something different in seemingly the same place. Myself, I watched the stunning vistas and the ‘untouched’ landscape and marvelled at how vast Canada really is. So much of our country is barely inhabited, while so many of us live in a narrow band along the border. It never ceases to amaze me at how much of Canada is ‘empty’ while so many other places around the world are so crowded.
I’ve never been fortunate enough to travel to the vast hinterland that is the Canadian Territories, but hope to some day, so I too can experience all our country has to offer. And to see what it looks like when the sun only goes down for a couple of hours…
I was also able to draw on my experience of having attended WordFest last year. In one scene in the film, there was a demonstration of Inuit throat singing, which to the untrained eye looks like two people hyper-ventalating to each other, or preparing to charge each other with a series of grunts. But because of having attended ‘Word of Mouth’ during last year’s WordFest, and having seen Tanya Tagaq perform this wonderful art form, I was more than familiar with what was going on. It just goes to show that WordFest not only entertains, but also educates. It truly is taking over the world one paragraph at a time!
You can learn more about the film, its writers, and the project in general by going to their website.