Berlin: Canadian Directors Dig at Donald Trump Amidst His Meeting With Justin Trudeau
Canuck directors took time out from screenings to talk about the North American opiod epidemic, Islamic radicalism and Sarah Palin as a possible U.S. ambassador to Canada.
As Donald Trump and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau met face-to-face at the White House on Monday, Canadian directors in Berlin sounded off on the new U.S. president.
Ashley McKenzie, director of Werewolf, a gritty look at opiod addicts in her native Cape Breton, said Trump was "delusional" after telling a recent roundtable of county sheriffs that building a wall on the Mexican border will end the opiod epidemic in the U.S.
McKenzie, whose film screened in Berlin over the weekend, said ending opiate misuse, overdoses and deaths — including in her hometown due to jobs lost when coal mines shut down — called for more than erecting a wall. "It's about not living in a stressed environment," she told The Hollywood Reporter. "Earning a living wage, better supports for single moms or for childcare, and less poverty — that is what would change people's inclinations."
Prime minister Trudeau was in Washington D.C. to meet with U.S. President Trump and discuss the Canada-U.S. relationship with the new administration. As the Canadian media showed the two leaders on the doorstep of the White House, Quebec filmmaker Simon Lavoie said the U.S. president was wrong to put radical Islam front and center in the global fight against terror, when his opponents see his presidency as its American equivalent.
"Donald Trump's election in the United States is a radical way to address this unease a lot of people feel in the United States," argued Lavoie, who with co-director Mathieu Denis is screening their Toronto award-winner Those Who Make Revolution Halfway Only Dig Their Own Graves in Berlin.
Their French-language dramatic feature about a radical Quebec leftist cell aiming to sow mayhem in Montreal reflects a worldwide malaise that has produced the Trump presidency, Europe's popular radical right and the Arab Spring in the Middle East, Lavoie said. "Islamic radicalism is not just springing out of nowhere. It comes from a resentment that has grown over decades," he explained. "Our [film] characters are in the same space: they've grown bitter, and are angry to some extent. And they're trying to find a way to focus this anger, and it leads to violence."
Elsewhere, director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, who is in Berlin to screen her pro-seal hunt documentary Angry Inuk, said former governor of Alaska Sarah Palin being considered by Trump as a possible U.S. ambassador to Canada could potentially help her cause.
"[Palin] has hunted and is a supporter of hunting, and in some odd way perhaps that could be a help the Inuit on this issue," the Inuit filmmaker told THR, after her film earned trophies at the Hot Docs and Santa Barbara festivals.
Arnaquq-Baril's film argues the anti-seal hunt campaign hurts Inuit life by denying an indigenous people who live and die by the seal a way to earn a livelihood. "The Americans don't even allow their own indigenous people to sell seal skins," the director noted.
At the same time, Arnaquq-Baril is wary of Palin, who has yet to be officially tapped to represent the U.S. in Ottawa, for pushing for greater oil exploration and drilling, which also impacts the Inuit way of life. "It would be a double-edged sword," she said.