Filmmaker Nettie Wild’s artful cinematography in, KONELĪNE: Our Land Beautiful
Nettie Wild’s latest documentary, KONELĪNE: Our Land Beautiful, features surreal landscapes of British Columbia’s northern regions, while touching on controversial subjects such as mining, hunting, and the future of Earth’s environment.
The film follows an array of different subjects, each with their own unique perspective on nature’s offerings. However, each subject is out there for the same reason—a love of the bush.
KONELĪNE is riddled with juxtaposing narratives that play off each other. We have the First Nation Tahltan people who hunt the land for food with rifles, a more contemporary style, while white hunters, who hunt for the thrill, proceed in a more philosophical way with bows.
“The white guys are completely out there for the experience and they haven’t shot an animal since they’ve gone out,” says director Nettie Wild. “The Tahltan are out there to get their food, but they’re using these rifles and trucks. What if I told you the elder who was driving the truck is one of the most respected elders in Tahltan territory? That is what a modern day contemporary elder hunting looks like.”
The scene with the Tahltan hunters doesn’t hold back and shows the graphic, realistic side of hunting. Once the bull moose drops to the ground after sustaining a bullet to the body and head, the hunters must carve up the animal to obtain their meat. This is a very delicate, gory and arduous process.
“I wanted to take people past the point of where they see a magnificent animal to the sheer grunt work of bringing home the meat,” Wild says. “It turns into this extraordinary exercise. I wanted people to linger. That scene went on for an actual six hours. It’s a big deal to carve up an animal like that.”
It’s one instance that shows the objective of KONELĪNE—finding the beauty in controversy.
“There was this vibrant, deep pink pillow that emerged out of this animal after it had been shot,” Wild says. “It was both the colour of life and the colour of death. We as a film crew were surprised—meaning we could surprise you, the audience.”
The film deals with the controversial topic of mining, showing both sides of the story.
One instance shows the Tahltan setting up a blockade, singing traditional songs while beating on drums to stop the gold mining of Brucejack mountain. Also featured are the industry miners perspectives, who are developing a mine that supplies the resources for much of the region.
“As a filmmaker, I use stuff that comes out of the Earth. My car, my phone, and my cameras use metal,” Wild says. “So who am I to turn around and crucify the guy who is pulling it out of the ground?”
There isn’t much dialogue going on, just a lot of screaming and no real progress being made. It’s one of the reasons Wild wanted to make the film.
“When you use art to embrace complexities, I think you pull people into a narrative they would normally run away from,” she says.
While KONELĪNE is, at its heart, an environmental documentary, it watches like an art house film. It’s not only due to the beautiful, breathtaking imagery of B.C.’s north but the fragmented stories from various people from all walks of life.
In particular, one scene shows the world’s largest helicopter transporting the mammoth power line structures for the northwest transmission line over B.C.’s mountains.
“The transmission lines being flown in were a visual gold mine,” Wild says. “We had no idea that the world’s biggest helicopter would be flying in these 16,000 pound towers over mountain tops and landing them like enormous space crafts. It became a metaphor for what was going on in the north.”
Wild hopes KONELĪNE will spark a debate and challenge the perceptions about what to do with the land. She’s not telling the viewer which side to choose, but rather to consider both and see the art in each perspective.
“We wanted people to be a part of a really delicious cinematic experience, in one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. My objective here was to find the poetry in everybody and everything that unravelled in front of my camera,” Wild says. “We weren’t coming up with a polemic, but rather a series of experiences, and good poetry can sometimes be gnarly because it has the ability to embrace the light and the dark.”
Sat., Sept. 9 and Sun., Sept. 10
KONELĪNE: Our Land Beautiful
Tickets at metrocinema.org