A dream come true! I’m writing and directing a 4 x half hour documentary series about Canadian writers and storytellers produced by Primitive Entertainment for CBC and Arte/ZDF
Canada hardly ever makes international headlines and yet, the world looks to Canada as our country continues to top the charts of desirable places to be: Canada the good, the free, wild and pristine, a beacon of hope and a haven for the world’s poor and persecuted. And while we don’t have to scratch very deep or look very far to see that’s naïve and partially untrue, public opinion is pervasive and persistent.The cliché of Canada as a country characterized by innocence and fairness, meritocracy, exemplary ethical and environmental standards, inclusivity, and humanitarianism sticks.
But it seems things are finally being shaken up. After 500 years of colonial history Canada is in the midst of a cultural revolution without precedent. Public debates are raging about societal privileges, racism, sexism and inequality. In this series, Canada’s leading writers, poets and storytellers take us on an exhilarating journey across a country in the throes of deep and intense soulsearching. While Canada has come a long way since Margaret Atwood’s Survival, and the country’s literary output is larger and more diverse than ever before, the seemingly age-old question, “what does it mean to be Canadian?” is usually accompanied by an eye-roll and considered a cliché in itself – but it nevertheless remains pressing. What do we want being Canadian to mean?
The land is at very the heart of the debate. A place of mindboggling beauty, great meaning and significance. As a recently colonized land, who does it belong to? If we’re all treaty people what is it going to entail to become truly post-colonial? What shall be our guiding principles to interact with this precious land and each other? In the past 500 years there was mainly “conquest,” “exploration” and “discovery” as Indigenous voices have been silenced. How shall we go forward? Literature, poetry, spoken word and the land itself are critical components of that process. For millennia, storytellers have turned to the land for guidance. Here in Canada, the land is old and it is powerful. The land speaks– but what does it say?
WRITING THE LAND is structured thematically, and each episode is dedicated to one of the primal elements this land is born of: ROCK, TREES, WATER and LIGHT. Ravishingly beautiful, bold and in your face: From the barren and rocky interior of Newfoundland to the Great Lakes, the forests of Quebec and the clear cuts of BC, from the urban centers to the tarsands and the vast tundra beyond – each episode dives deep into Canada’s current cultural and philosophical revolution. This visually stunning expedition brings to life the creative process of Canada’s leading authors and poets. This is writing at its most vibrant – up close and personal, tactile and tangible. And this is literature at its most relevant, as Canada’s brightest provide vision for all of us and their stories are reshaping the world we live in.
We’re thrilled to be working with (in order of shoot): Madeleine Thien, Eden Robinson, Michael Winter, Catherine Hernandez, Katherena Vermette, Edem Awumey, Esi Edugyan, Joshua Whitehead, Catherine Leroux, Uzma Jalaluddin, Ivan Coyote and Aviaq Johnston
© Stephanie Weimar 2020