People of a Feather Trailer (2011)

Utilizing astonishing time-lapse photography captured over the course of seven years, Joel Heath illustrates how a traditional way of life is being ravaged by environmental change. On Hudson Bay's isolated Belcher Islands, the community of Sanikiluaq has long relied upon the eider duck and their down feathers (the warmest in the world) for survival. However, the runoff from nearby hydroelectric dams has resulted in an increasingly volatile ecosystem and triggered massive die-offs in the ducks. In turn, the Sanikiluaq people are left wondering how they and their culture will prevail.

A product of the VIFF Film & TV Forum's Storyville Vancouver initiative, People of a Feather certifies that ecologist-turned-documentarian Heath is a born filmmaker. Amazing underwater footage allows us to both marvel at the eiders' diving abilities and recoil at the horrifying fates that now await them. Meanwhile, Heath similarly acquaints us with the residents of Sanikiluaq, both through glimpses of their past (as pieces of their oral history are brought to life) and present (in the form a hip-hop interlude). A "written by" credit for the community serves as a clear indication of the close relationship--both creatively and culturally--that Heath shares with them. By reflecting on how they survived in the past, the community seeks ways to adapt and address the problem for a sustainable future.

2 min 28 sec


Posted On
October 26, 2011
Joel Heath

Community of Sanikiluaq. Joel Heath


October 3, 2011
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