Away From Her, Barney’s Version, Maïna and other great film adaptations of CanLit
Literature can play a crucial role in our lives, representing and interpreting the voices and experiences that make us better understand or challenge social and cultural constructs – and how to respond to them.
These stories, shared or foreign, open our eyes to possibilities or opportunities to be enlightened. They can prompt critical thinking and perhaps change our status quo or challenge subconsciously ingrained views of the world or ourselves.
Canadian literature is bathed in the same sun thanks to eminent authors such as Mordecai Richler, Margaret Atwood, Lawrence Hill, Alice Munro, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson and many more.
Some CanLit masterpieces have been turned into acclaimed films and here are a few you can now stream CBC Gem.
Far from her is a moving love story that follows the path of age, disability and a long marriage. Far from her is the lyrical adaptation of the screenplay from famous author Alice Munro’s short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” from her 2001 collection Hatred, Friendship, Court, Love, Marriage.
The story follows a man facing the institutionalization of his wife due to Alzheimer’s disease. He faces a revelation when she loses all memory and passes her affection on to another resident of the nursing home, Aubrey – a man in a wheelchair who is also mute.
This critically acclaimed film was written and directed by Sarah Polley, starring leading actors including Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent, and supporting actors: Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson, Alberta Watson and Kristen Thomson.
Far from her was Sarah Polley’s directorial debut feature and critics praised not only the film’s performances, but Polley’s screenplay and directing as well.
“Rarely has love at any age been so honestly portrayed on screen. That such a complete portrait is created by a 28-year-old director for the first time is even more remarkable.” – Ann Hornaday, Washington Post.
The film received two 80th Oscar nominations: for Best Actress (Julie Christie) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Sarah Polley). It also won seven Genie Awards, including Best Film.
at Michel Poulette Maïna is a sensual coming-of-age story of a young Innu woman’s spiritual journey and a tale of cultural conflict, which takes place some 600 years ago in the Canadian wilderness, before the European invasion.
The film, based on the book of the same name by Dominique Demers, sees Maïna travel to the Far North to save her young friend. And when her rescue mission fails, the Inuit travelers – who have held her friend captive – take her too. During their arduous adventure in the Arctic, Maïna ends up falling in love with a man from the enemy tribe.
Maïna has received numerous awards and an impressive six Canadian Screen Award nominations, including Best Film and Best Cinematography.
In this interview with CBC All in one weekend, director Michel Poulette said he was absolutely engrossed in the book from start to finish and decided to make an image of it.
He explained that the book was shot 3,500 years ago, but after talking to the Innu and Inuit and doing some research, they decided it was better to bring the timeline closer to today, by rather making the eighteenth century. He added that it was the first time that the Innu could see themselves represented on the big screen but also get along, because the languages spoken in the film are Innu and Inuit.
And to add the icing on the cake, “I think [people] will [take away from] this film a new knowledge of these two civilizations, ”says Pulette. The movie is also filled with wildlife such as polar bears, caribou, wolves, ducks and more.
Barney’s version is a film that follows a picaresque and touching story of 67-year-old Barney Panofsky, politically incorrect, impulsive, irascible and fearless, who believes in only two things: that no one will ever understand anyone and that life is absurd.
When a series of events push Barney to write his memoir, what unfolds is a funny, candid, and surprisingly touching portrayal of one of CanLit’s most iconic characters. A scorching but tender tale of his life that includes a lot of bad behavior.
The film is based on Mordecai Richler’s 1997 book of the same name which is written from a first person perspective – while the film is told from a third person perspective.
The book won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 1997 and was a finalist in Canada Reads 2004, supported by Canadian author and journalist Zsuzsi Gartner.
Not only was the book written by one of Canada’s most famous authors, who also briefly worked at the CBC in Montreal, but the film version stars Hollywood mega stars: Oscar nominee Paul Giamatti (Billion, Cinderella man) and two-time Oscar winner Dustin Hoffman (The graduation, Rain man), in the main roles.
The film was nominated for a number of awards including an Oscar for Best Makeup and won many geniuses as well as a Golden Globe for Best Actor.
Biidaaban is an animated short film based on stories and poems by famous Anishinaabe writer / musician Leanne Betasamosake Simpson.
In this haunting stop-motion short film directed by Amanda Strong, Indigenous youth are tasked with collecting the ceremonial harvest of sap from suburban Ontario maple trees (somewhere in Peterborough) – just as their Indigenous ancestors did during generations.
Unlike those who came before them, the titular Biidaaban joined by Sabe, a 10,000-year-old shapeshifter, is forced to squeeze through the middle of the night as trees that once belonged to the forest now grow on private property. The duo, however, are guided by wandering animal spirits, a ghost caribou and a ghost wolf, to get the job done.
“In this story, we wanted to create a dialogue around who owns the land and what belongs to the property – especially when you have trees and root systems that have been around in these spaces since time immemorial,” Strong said. at CBC Arts in their interview on the films are numerous breathtaking moments.
The lesser blessed is a film about a First Nations teenager’s struggle for identity, healing, and quest to find his place in the modern world – starring Benjamin Bratt, Kiowa Gordon and Joel Evans.
The film was adapted in 2012 by Ukrainian filmmaker Anita Doron, from the novel of the same name by Canadian writer Richard Van Camp – which won the German Children’s Literature Prize in 2001 – and was nominated for best screenplay adapted to Canadian Screen Awards.
“The lesser blessed inspired me to continue writing my own stories about young Anishinaabeg. The diverse and fascinating characters are humanized in a way that was largely unknown in the media and mainstream literature when this short but very powerful book was published two decades ago, ”the journalist said and author, Waubgeshig Rice, on the book at Radio-Canada books.
Van Camp has shown me that there is nothing wrong with going to dark places and writing about hard truths when portraying the young Indigenous experience in fiction, while making sure that the hope and joy have room to triumph. “
Breadwinner is a 2017 animated film produced by Angelina Jolie and Mimi Polk Gitlin, and directed by Nora Twomey, about a stubborn young girl in Afghanistan who dresses up as a boy in order to support her family and become the breadwinner incumbent.
Based on the best-selling children’s novel of the same name, also known as Parvana – by Deborah Ellis, the film was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 2018 Oscars and won the CSA for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The book was published in 2000 after the author spent months interviewing women and girls in refugee camps in Pakistan for research. Ellis used these interviews as the basis for his description of life in Afghanistan.
A talented but mentally ill beautiful woman loses custody of her two young children when she is caught up in a manic episode that prompts her to leave them unattended on an island near her summer home.
This adaptation of Joan Clark’s novel of the same name also delves into survival, overcoming obstacles and mending family barriers. The author said An audience of chairs is based on her cousin, who is bipolar and has had a difficult life because of it.
“Like beauty, madness altered perception, but instead of offering illusion, it offered illusion. , the panic would subside and the delusions would pass. “ – Book’s extract An audience of chairs (p. 286)
Based on the first novel of the same name by Newfoundland author Joel Thomas Hynes, the film follows the story of Keith and Natasha’s deteriorating relationship. When Natasha flees to Halifax, Keith makes it his mission to find her, only to learn things about himself that he had never realized before.
The film received two awards at the Atlantic Film Festival for Best Feature Film and Best Original Screenplay.
Author Joel Thomas Hynes, known for his recurring characters on Republic of Doyle, Black orphan, Mary kills people and Frontier, plays the main role in the film. He also created and starred in Little dog and will be seen in the upcoming book-based CBC Gem series, The crook.
You can stream these adaptations of the novel to the screen on Gem of Radio-Canada.