Through Black Spruce
True North | True North
Determined to learn the fate of her sister, Annie (Vancouver’s own Tanaya Beatty in what could be a star-making turn) leaves remote Moosonee to investigate the Toronto fashion circles she ran in. Instead, she falls prey to the same seductions that proved her sibling’s undoing, including a silver tongued photographer (Kiowa Gordon) enjoying a meteoric rise and his dealer buddy (Joey Klein) who isn’t the least bit adverse to getting his hands extremely dirty. In a world this predatory, Annie’s pointed questions provoke devastating consequences that reverberate back to her Cree community in James Bay, where her uncle Will (Brandon Oakes, subtly spectacular) soon finds himself under siege.
Scripted by Barbara Samuels, Through Black Spruce skilfully shifts between Annie and Will’s plights while methodically putting us in a stranglehold. Even if this were a film born purely of imagination, it would be riveting. But the fact Don McKellar’s taut mystery hinges on ugly truths about our society’s treatment of Indigenous women can’t help but leave a viewer rattled and wresting with hard questions about culpability.
"McKellar provides ample space for Brandon Oakes and Tanaya Beatty to deliver career-making performances. As the beaten and wounded Will, Oakes in particular demands immediate attention."—Barry Hertz, Globe & Mail