This past week, Andrew and I viewed not one, but TWO films that are set here in Southeastern Manitoba, and I think it’s important that I tell you about them: All My Puny Sorrows, and Ste. Anne.
First let’s talk about All My Puny Sorrows. I’ve been anticipating the dramatization of Miriam Toews’ novels for quite some time now. I know there are several of them in production, or perhaps completed already, but this is the very first film adaptation of her novels that I’ve seen. Now, it’s been several years since I read AMPS, and I had not re-read the novel to refresh my memory ahead of watching this film — and I’m glad. Instead of comparing the film to the novel (as is often the temptation, I think), I was able to sit with the film and feel like it was helping me become reacquainted with the story, if that makes sense. As I watched, I felt like I was watching the pages come alive. I remembered scenes as written by Toews, as I watched them play out on the screen. It was remarkable, and if you want to see it on the big screen I think maybe you should hurry as it may only be playing in Winnipeg just this week. And… bring some tissues. Watching sisters grappling with one wanting to die and the other to live, will require a pocket tissue or two. I thought the cast was extraordinary and I loved how quiet the film is. Though it did make me reaching for my Reese’s Pieces a bit of an embarrassing situation and I apologize to my fellow moviegoers for the crinkling this caused. Now, can I just say, that this next bit will probably be annoying to people who are better at analyzing movies than I am — and also possibly to those who say East Village is not necessarily Steinbach. Sure sure okay okay but it’s just hard when you know a town so well and it’s plainly Ontario and not Manitoba that’s on the screen. Our town is not that hilly or treed. And the Winnipeg hospital represented was also clearly not a Winnipeg hospital. I couldn’t help but think about that since I’d just spent my own intense bout of time recently in a Winnipeg hospital with a loved one and my memory is too fresh. Anyhow these are pesky, inane observations of a hometown girl and I apologize. Folks, this is a must-see film, and you also must hurry while All My Puny Sorrows is probably in Winnipeg theatres this week only. Hurry!
Next, let’s talk about Ste. Anne. This is an art film, and we missed its screening at Cinematheque earlier this month, but were able to find it streaming. What an absolutely gorgeous film. Surreal. Dreamy. Potent. I also didn’t always know what was going on. Often I didn’t. And yet… I did? Or maybe I wasn’t necessarily supposed to understand, it’s not necessarily entirely clear or linear. (Sidebar or fun fact, it was a thrill for me to see my aunt’s name listed in the credits and on the poster. I never really am aware of the projects she’s working on at any given time, but after watching this stunning film, this was a pleasing surprise.) The landscape offered in Ste. Anne is beautiful… and it’s only a few miles from here. Definitely about place but also about people, about Treaty 1 territory and Indigenous and Metis relationship with the land. I worry I’m writing about this all wrong. I think I need to watch it again. See the trailer for Ste. Anne here.