November continues to be a difficult month, so of course it makes sense that suddenly the only thing I’m seeing online is warnings about the apocalypse. The one silver lining of all this is that I was recommended a post-apocalyptic Canadian film, written and directed by a young Métis filmmaker by the name of Benjamin Ross Hayden and starring a mostly aboriginal cast from Canada. Intrigued by this premise, I checked out the trailer, and now I’m here to share it with you.
The Northlander is set in the far future, even if it might look like it’s set in the distant past. Our hero, Cygnus, is a hunter who’s been sent by his clan matriarch, Nova, to find a way to save their people from a group of invaders and to secure their future way of life. A strange sci-fi object seems to be the key to the latter problem, and together with another hunter, Mari, Cygnus heads out across the wastelands on his journey.
Post-apocalyptic films have been done over and over, especially recently, and The Northlander draws very strong parallels to another LGG&F favorite: Mad Max: Fury Road. Though it was filmed on a very low budget, The Northlander has a beautiful, dream-like aesthetic that really adds to the film’s journey. Cygnus’s people live in a forest, much like Furiosa’s looked-for Green Place, but outside of that, there are only endless shots of desert and mountain terrain. However, they are already finding that their food and water are becoming scarcer as the apocalyptic years roll by, so it’s doubly important that Cygnus and Mari find a way to protect their future way of life.
This is a particularly important message given the film’s largely aboriginal cast and crew—Canada’s First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples have long been fighting a laundry list of wrongs perpetuated against them, in particular their extreme food deserts and their missing and murdered aboriginal women. Similarly, the U.S.’s Native population is currently protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, a pipeline which is planned to be built across Native lands and runs the high risk of rendering their water supplies unusable and undrinkable. (Read more about the #NoDAPL movement here.) Cygnus’s mission in the post-apocalyptic future has a natural and intrinsic connection to these problems in the present.
The Northlander was released in September, but you may have to work to find it in theaters near you. Though it was selected for several film festivals, it was ultimately only released in certain cities across Canada. If you want to watch and support this film, keep an eye on their Facebook page for future showings.