Preview- Rhymes for Young Ghouls (East End Film Festival)
Friday 20 June 2014, by
Now here is a Canada that we don’t see on postcards. Or in scenes of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ when Robin visits Canada for the weekend. On the Red Crow Indian Reservation in 1969 teenage Aila and her uncle, Burner, run a quaint weed dealing business to supplement the family’s income, which also allows Aila to save to leave the Res. But living isn’t easy, primarily because rogue Indian agent Popper rules the people with violence and bribes and theft to keep them in line. Aila plots to take a stand against Popper’s tyranny and reclaim the money that was taken in the latest raid, just as Aila’s father, Joseph, is released from prison; both work to awaken old ghosts.
The story uses the Mi’kmaq language not just to tell stories, but avoids stereotypes by using Mi’kmaq to tell jokes, express anguish and resist indoctrination and theft. Finally Indigenous people can have a scene with dialogue and speak an Indigenous language without being encircled in a fire pit with drums playing in the background. Loved it! Another fabulous aspect of the film is the blurring of the lines between the living and the dead and the past and the present, without the stereotypical Indian mysticism. Instead RFYG uses concepts of debt, money and generation to consider who is in debt and who is a debtor as Aila, Popper, Joseph and Burner all have accounts to settle, and none of them seem to be able to make it out of debt.
Generally, we Champagne Socialists in the U.S. talk about Canadians like our cool cousins up north that get it- free health care doesn’t make you a communist! Higher education doesn’t have to put you $30,000 in debt! Totally! The film reminds us that you can’t talk about Canadians and omit discussions of policies regulating Indigenous people, its institutions and the legacies they inscribe on people and in their memories. RFYG is not just about life on ‘the res’ per se, but about family ghosts that haunt our communities and our psyche- ghosts that want us to remember, or don’t want us to forget- a different kind of indebtedness.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls is playing at Rich Mix, Friday 20th June, 6.15pm.
Director: Jeff Barnaby
Premiere type: UK
Running time: 88min