Sunday, March 04, 2012

People of a Feather --- WOW!

Just saw a wonderful Canadian film today -- People of a Feather, by Joel Heath and the community of Sanikiluaq. The opening sequences show you the Belcher Islands in Hudson Bay where the film was made. Most of the rest of the images show the islands and the surrounding sea ice in winter so close you're barely aware of the low, flat horizon and the miles & miles of open water or nearly-level ice.

The ice only looks level at a distance. For the animals and people at the edge of an island, or out on the ice, there are ever so many kinds of textures and kinds of ice. It breaks and is pushed along by currents and wind. Most of the scenes showed one or another open place in the ice, called a polynya (po-lin-yah). That's where eider ducks come, to dive down to the sea bottom for mussels and urchins to eat. This winter, I've been watching ducks again, but the local ducks are different from these eider ducks in Hudson Bay. These photos are from the website promoting the film. Click here to see the short video trailer. There are underwater and aerial images as well as candid hand-held shots and simple tripod work.

The film is a marvelous combination of scenes of the eider ducks and other scenes of the people who live in Sanikiluaq. The co-operation between science and residence works very well in this film; the community called for help when the eider ducks were dying and the scientist who came had respect for their observations. The scientist is not the narrator for the film. The story presented isn't from his point of view, it's told by the people who live in the islands. They've got a great website at that's informative and loads quickly.

One of the things that really impressed me was the people of Sanikiluaq decided to make traditional clothes and tools for several scenes. There's even a traditional kayak featured!


  1. Thanks to share these news and the links. Didn't know about it at all -))

  2. It's a terrific film, in many ways. For us kayakers, it's a chance to see a traditional boat being used in traditional ways. It's an important film from an environmental sense, too, showing how the over-use of electrical power from hydroelectric dams in Northern Quebec has real effects on Hudson Bay waters. But as a Canadian, I was so pleased to see the co-operation between the Belcher Islanders and the scientist they called in to investigate how the changes in ice were affecting the eider ducks.