Winds of Heaven (Emily Carr 150)

VIFF Centre Screening | Free on VIFF Connect

Born in Victoria, BC, December 13, 1871 (150 years ago this week), Emily Carr began painting in an era when women didn’t, at an age when most people shouldn’t, traveling to remote locations that few professional adventurers chose to go. Not only did she adopt the modern painting techniques of impressionism when such ideas were considered dangerous, Carr chronicled the extraordinary art and culture of First Nations peoples, who were largely invisible to the dominant culture.

To mark this anniversary, another chance to savour Michael Ostroff’s definitive film portrait of this iconic BC artist. Described by VIFF at the time as ", possibly one of the best films ever made about our province, these forests, and our history as newcomers…." Winds of Heaven is a journey into the deep brooding mystery and inner beauty of Emily Carr’s paintings. The documentary addresses a number of myths about Carr’s life, and her contradictory relationship with and attitude towards the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast of British Columbia. While she resisted the predominate white attitude of portraying natives as "savages", devoid of cultural sensibilities, the film explores the critique of Carr that she contributed to the "traffic of native images." Integral to the narrative is the exploration of the racism of the day – the Canadian government’s celebration of the ancient native arts and its determination to preserve the totem poles, while ironically advocating and implementing policies that were determined to eradicate the Indigenous peoples’ way of life and culture. The film includes commentary by cultural critics Gerta Moray and Susan Crean, and Indigenous art critic Marcia Crosby, and museum curator Laurel Smith Wilson.

"If ever there was a heroine of true grit in the history of art it was Emily Carr, a painter of such singular strength and beauty […] Carr’s landscapes of the high skies, wild bays and deep forests of the Pacific west coast of Canada – whispering with sound, radiant with inner movement and mysterious light – are as exhilarating as the places they represent. Carr found a new way of painting that is unlike any other, in which the vision is radically joyful and modern, the paint as fine yet potent as the breezy air around her. Although she is often compared with her contemporary, Georgia O’Keeffe – two single-minded women out in all weathers, painting the great outdoors – at her best Carr has more in common with her fellow outsider Vincent van Gogh." Laura Cumming, The Guardian

"Ambitious, impressionistic, and endowed with a stunning wealth of archival imagery, Winds of Heaven stands as the definitive, critical film portrait of Emily Carr." Janet Smith, Georgia Straight

"It’s magic! Michael Ostroff’s new feature film Winds of Heaven weaves a living, breathing evocation of Emily Carr from a basket of disparate elements. Here is Carr for the 21st century, a woman of complexity." Robert Amos, Victoria Times Colonist

Director Icon Director
Michael Ostroff
Producer Peter Raymont, Michael Ostroff
Screenwriter Michael Ostroff
Cinematographer John Walker
Editor Tai Zimmer
Music Edmund Eagan
Canada 2010 87 min. Blu-ray Disc 19+ Article


Please note this film can only be viewed in British Columbia, when streaming on VIFF Connect.

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