Intro

What to make of it all? 
Acclaimed poet John Newlove (1938-2003) emerged as a major literary voice in Canada at a time when poetry mattered. In the 1960s and 70s, poets sold more books, attracted more readers, and rode a wave of notoriety as they gave voice to a new and self-conscious nationalism. Newlove, who had abandoned the rural Saskatchewan of his childhood for the beatnik heyday of Vancouver, spent years weaving in and out of literary communities across Canada. He was among the most acclaimed and most notorious of his generation-known almost as much for his wild drinking as for his lyrical, terse writing.

Poignant interviews with Newlove in his last years are punctuated with commentary from George Bowering, Patrick Lane, Joe Rosenblatt, John Metcalf and the many poets and friends who knew the public persona and the private man. All consider him to be among the best of North American poets; all saw signs of his descent into alcoholism. His wife and children discuss his battle to overcome addiction and the depression that plagued him throughout his life.

Plain spoken and carefully crafted, his poetry mixed an obsession with the history and identity of the prairies alongside a bleak personal struggle for understanding. His spare and immaculate work is the constant backdrop to this complex portrait of a troubled artist.

Director and producer Robert McTavish also edited A Long Continual Argument: The Selected Poems of John Newlove (Chaudiere Books, 2007).

Ghosts on the Land

Ghosts on the Land from Non-Inferno Media.

The ghosts of Canada's rural heritage that haunt the modern prairie are not alone. A new spectre, the global corporate culture, is waging an invisible battle for control of the land. As the family farm slips closer to oblivion, this documentary examines the crisis on Canadian farms through the stories of three Saskatchewan families - all of whom descended from original homesteaders working the land at the start of the 20th century. These farmers discuss the choices they've made to survive, whether that's meant selling off the family land or expanding massively only to watch the community wither as other families leave. Ghosts on the Land addresses the cultural and sociological consequences that accompany the death of the family farm.

With commentary from Jack Stabler (Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Saskatchewan), renowned Canadian writer and rancher Sharon Butala, and professor and former president of the National Farmers' Union Nettie Wiebe. 47 minutes.

Fiddler's Map

Fiddler's Map from Non-Inferno Media.

Fiddler's Map follows a young Métis woman as she maps out what it means to be Métis in Canada today. Merelda Fiddler, descendent of fur trader and mapmaker Peter Fidler, surveys Métis history, culture, and politics while grappling with her own sense of family and identity. Among the many individuals she meets on her journey, Fiddler visits John Lagimodiere - a direct descendent of Louis Riel who publishes and edits Eagle Feather News as well as facilitating Aboriginal awareness seminars detailing the progress of the Métis since 1885. She speaks with Maria Campbell - a writer and filmmaker best known for her revealing bestseller Halfbreed, which speaks to the political impact of telling Métis stories. This documentary moves across Saskatchewan, home to one of the largest aboriginal populations in Canada, examining the racism and resentment that once led many families to repress their own heritage. The result is both an overview of Métis life in Canada since the fur trade and a personal quest to rediscover one's roots. 47 minutes.