Even more proud to be Canadian. President Zelensky was just here with his wife, the visit an enormous success. The video of the rally with many hundreds of Ukrainian-Canadians spontaneously singing the anthem made me choke up. The Ukrainian leader has been in the eye of a murderous storm for a year and a half, has watched his country and its people be eviscerated, has never lost his spirit or changed his khaki clothes. An exceptional leader and man. Zelensky and Justin Trudeau have a warm, genuine bond. I didn’t hear Trudeau’s speech, but Ken did and said, “Our prime minister is on fire! I’m so proud of him.”
Last night was Nuit Blanche, when the city is jammed with arts events through the night. Monique, Annie, and I explored the Danforth in the east end, where so many happy people were meandering along the street or dining on the sidewalk, I couldn’t believe I was in once-staid Toronto!
Before that, we drove to see Nettie Wild’s installation Go Fish at the Aga Khan Museum north of the city. Late! After 8 o’clock! Practically midnight! Nettie had insisted we come after dark, because the installation is spectacular in the dark, she said. And she was right, spectacular is the word.
In 1979 the formidable Nettie Wild and I were part of a group that founded Headlines Theatre in Vancouver, to write and perform plays about topical issues. She has gone on to a stellar career as a documentary filmmaker, living through danger and extreme adventures around the world, winner of many well-deserved awards. Her film Koneline: Our Land Beautiful (recommendation: don’t miss it), shows the contentitious relationship between Indigenous people and miners in northern B.C. As always, Nettie is non-judgemental and unbiased; we see clearly the POV of both sides — in fact, ALL sides, because the struggles are not binary. But her camera immerses us in the extraordinary richness of a natural world that’s at risk.
So too, last night, in Go Fish, shown on three screens in kaleidoscopic beauty — at one point, for the first time in decades, I thought, This would be great to see stoned — she shows the annual herring run in the waters of B. C., many millions of fish captured in giant nets while also pursued by eagles, seals, sea lions, sea birds. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking, visually complex and bewitching, with a powerful score. Especially stunning watched outside at the serene Aga Khan Museum on a perfect late summer night.
But it’s also horrifying, the relentless scooping of the industrial fishing boats, the deaths of so many living creatures. As a gift to us, Nettie ends with close-ups of countless herring eggs, glistening underwater in the sun, preparing to hatch for next year’s run. There’s hope.
If you are near or in Toronto, run, don’t walk, to catch this gorgeous, deeply moving film. It’s on all week.
Pix: Nettie’s film with moon, and a back view of the lovely museum, with words standing upright in one of its reflecting pools. A blessing to live in this great, embattled city, this week.