I’ve been mulling over how best make my point here. I keep coming back to the idea of a list. Lists are perhaps not the most poetic way to communicate but I’m hoping it’ll create the desired effect (I’m trying to impress you). OK here we go: Singing to Myself, Not My Brother, Just Passing Through, Pogey Beach, Lovely Witches Club, A Blessing from the Sea, The King vs. Jupiter Wise, Monster Proof, Wharf Rats, The Song and the Sorrow, Bluefin… at this point some of you will have noticed that these are the titles of recent PEI film and video productions. But that’s not all. Let me throw into the mix some music videos: Believer, My Fault, My Sweet Rosetta, Blackbird. And how about a few social media and commercial campaigns: East Points Coastal Drive, That’s Island Style, Coastal Stories, This is Why We Do It.
And because I don’t want to lose you—I’ll stop here. But there’s more. So. Much. More. These media works, short and long, artistic and commercial (and both) were produced (or are in production) right here on our little Island all within the last year. Created by PEI filmmakers who are working off of passion and a little hustle and creating works of such beauty, depth, effect, and inspiration, that it’s gob-smacking to realize it’s all being done locally.
These works run the gamut from award-winning feature documentaries (Bluefin) to dramas funded by national funding agencies featuring some of Atlantic Canada’s most notable actors (A Blessing from the Sea) to Telefilm Canada and IPF funded web series (Lovely Witches Club, Just Passing Through). Google any one of these titles and I guarantee you’ll be impressed with the production value and the story-telling. Telling local stories with universal appeal. Communicating our small corner the globe to the global community. It’s a creative community on PEI that I’m thrilled to be a part of.
We talk about eating local. Sourcing our food from farms nearby, from farmers whose names we know. Because not only is that food fresher and our dollars circulate back into the local economy faster, but because there is something enriching about that visceral connection. The food we put in our bodies, grown in the same soil we walk upon. That connection creates a sense of identity and also of responsibility. We take care of what we know (more or less).
I’d venture to say that screen-based media is the medium of our time. For better or for worse we absorb art and information increasingly through the moving image. Much of that media is made by a massive machine that reflects life back to us in big-box-office-y ways that have little or nothing to do with knowing or understanding ourselves or one another.
So if we are what we eat, we are also what we watch. If we lend our eyes, ears and minds to stories told by local creators, won’t we become more ourselves? Not in an exclusive way, but in a diverse, colourful, fluid, inclusive, and inquisitive way. In a way that creates dialogue amongst one another. In a way that allows local identity to grow and envision its best self.
I’m not saying you should watch local films because it’s the right thing to do. I’m saying that if you watch local films you’ll really enjoy them. And they’ll speak to you, and echo you. And our community’s voice will grow and have an effect in the broader global landscape. So here’s to stories sprung from our soil. Screen-based-style.
—Millefiore Clarkes is a filmmaker who lives and works in Belfast, PEI. She owns and operates One Thousand Flowers Productions.