Having its World Premiere screening today at Scotiabank, with additional screenings on September 15th and 20th, is Fire Song. Writer/director Adam Garnet Jones has created a gentle, and undeniably, moving film that invites you into the lives of its characters, as each one becomes mired and trapped in realities that they seem unable to escape from.
At the film’s center is Shane (Andrew Martin), a young, two-spirit, Anishnabe man, who finds himself in the unenviable position of trying to support his family after his mother, Jackie’s (Jennifer Podemski) inward spiral caused by the suicide of his sister. He finds himself stuck on the reservation, just trying to get by, while looking towards the big city of Toronto, where he hopes and dreams of attending a post-secondary institution, and be able to be who he actually is.
He is surrounded by a wealth of characters, including his girlfriend, Tara (Mary Galloway), and medicine woman, Evie (Ma-Nee Chacaby).
All he wants for himself is to get off the reservation, and live, but his commitment to his mother keeps him there, and he finds himself drowning in economic responsibilities, and the worrying fact that the tribe may discover that he, and David (Harley Legarde), share more than affection for one another. Shane is determined to follow his dreams, whether through using his inheritance money, left by his father, or by working odd jobs around the reservation, including dealing drugs. He longs to be away from the reservation, with David at his side…
David, meanwhile, is learning to be a medicine man, learning the tribe’s stories and histories, but is well aware that if they should learn the truth of his sexuality, that he will be shunned and ostracized by the community he longs to be a part of.
The two of them steal their moments where they can, but things come to a head for everyone, when Tara sees the two kissing. The fallout from this will affect everyone, and may tear lives asunder, or allow them to push through together…
Jones balances all of his characters, each of them has their own story thread, and arcs, and even with a film that clocks in at just 87 minutes, each of them has their moment, and emotional payoff. What he and his cast have done is put us in the shoes of the outcast, the person who hides who he is because of cultural restrictions, and wants nothing more than to find an escape and embrace life as he knows it should be lived, filled with affection for the one you care about, no matter their gender, or beliefs.
All of the cast, some first time actors, convey an easy presence on the screen, and Martin and Galloway in particular turn in strong performances that tugs and tears at your heart. A lovely and dramatic film, with fine performances, and a great script.
Buy your tickets here.