People of a Feather

Poster for People of a Feather

Winter 2012 Documentary series

Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 7:00pm

Acadia Cinema's Al Whittle Theatre
450 Main Street, Wolfville, NS

Directed by Joel Heath

Screenplay by the community of Sanikiluaq


Rated NR · 1h 30m
English and Inuktitut

View trailer

People of a Feather

Featuring groundbreaking footage from seven winters in the Arctic, People of a Feather takes you through time into the world of Inuit on the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay. Connecting past, present and future is a unique cultural relationship with the eider duck. Eider down, the warmest feather in the world, allows both Inuit and bird to survive harsh Arctic winters. Recreations of traditional life are juxtaposed with modern life in Sanikiluaq, as both people and eiders face the challenges posed by changing sea ice and ocean currents disrupted by the massive hydroelectric dams powering eastern North America.

Utilizing astonishing time-lapse photography captured over the course of seven years, Joel Heath illustrates how a traditional way of life is being ravaged by environmental change. On Hudson Bay’s isolated Belcher Islands, the community of Sanikiluaq has long relied upon the eider duck and their down feathers (the warmest in the world) for survival. However, the runoff from nearby hydroelectric dams has resulted in an increasingly volatile ecosystem and triggered massive die-offs in the ducks. In turn, the Sanikiluaq people are left wondering how they and their culture will prevail.

A product of the VIFF Film & TV Forum’s Storyville Vancouver initiative, People of a Feather certifies that ecologist-turned-documentarian Heath is a born filmmaker. Amazing underwater footage allows us to both marvel at the eiders’ diving abilities and recoil at the horrifying fates that now await them. Meanwhile, Heath similarly acquaints us with the residents of Sanikiluaq, both through glimpses of their past (as pieces of their oral history are brought to life) and present (in the form a hip-hop interlude).

A “written by” credit for the community serves as a clear indication of the close relationship–both creatively and culturally–that Heath shares with them. By reflecting on how they survived in the past, the community seeks ways to adapt and address the problem for a sustainable future. – Vancouver International Film Festival

Filmmaker, Dr. Joel Heath, will introduce the film, and with editor Evan Warner will conduct a Q & A post screening. After FFS expenses, all gate receipts will go to the Arctic Eider Society.

On Tuesday, March 13, at 7:30 (Fountain Commons), Acadia University’s Environmental and Sustainability Studies will present Dr. Joel Heath’s talk “Winter on the Arctic Sea Ice: Integrating Inuit Culture, Science & Filmmaking on the Belcher Islands of Hudson Bay”.