Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers And The Spirit Of The Forest

Poster for Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers And The Spirit Of The Forest

Spring 2011 Documentary series

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 at 8:00pm

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

Directed by Michael Ostroff

Screenplay by Michael Ostroff


Rated PG · 1h 27m

Winds of Heaven: Emily Carr, Carvers And The Spirit Of The Forest

Not for Emily Carr, the “chocolate box” school of art. Instead, this determined daughter of prudish English parents in stiflingly colonial late-19th century Victoria, B.C., was to take her inspiration from the monumental totemic art of British Columbia’s native peoples.

Winds of Heaven: Carvers, Emily Carr and the Spirits of the Forest, a new documentary by veteran Ottawa director Michael Ostroff, grapples with not only the portrait of an indomitable artist but also the portrait of an indomitable people.

Canada is chock-a-block with cultural irony, but none richer than the one Ostroff presents us with in this stirring 90-minute journey: Carr’s iconic paintings of totems and carvings celebrated native culture at a time when Canadian federal and provincial governments were hell-bent on assimilating it and its makers.

Five years in creation, Ostroff’s second film about a female artist, following the lyrical Pegi Nicol: Something Dancing About Her, it incorporates stunning archival footage and photographs of both Victorian Canada and Northwest Coast native villages, set re-creations and interviews with present-day writers and art critics. And if the ambitious film sometimes seems to be travelling on two tracks at once, its unity resides in the art itself, both Carr’s and that of the aboriginal originals.

More than 120 of Carr’s paintings and sketches are featured, as well as her considerable writings. She was a feisty and funny observer of her own life and times. “Nobody can write my hodgepodge life but me,” was her rebuke to a would-be biographer. Her words and her fierce emotional spirit come alive through the voice of Canadian stage and screen actor Diane D’Aquila, who played on the Al Whittle stage in Valley Summer Theatre’s production of P. Gurney’s Love Letters. And director of photography, Nova scotia‚Äôs John Walker, has just won the Robert Brooks Award for Documentary Cinematography for his extraordinary images and his brilliant work in this film. Fundy Film has screened John’s work in past seasons: Strand: Under the Dark Cloth (Spring’08) and Passage (Autumn ’09).

From T.S. Warren

P.S. We have not yet been able to locate a quality trailer to share on our site. Sorry!