A community youth worker in the snow covered Yukon talks spiritually about the importance of the land
13th November 2019 by Will Stewart
This is a beautiful looking and sounding film about the magically snow covered Yukon. Film maker Adrian Assoufi visited the Yukon several times over the past couple of years, and quickly became friendly with a youth worker in the area. This film, shot in Super 8 is a lovely piece in it’s own right, but Adrian says he’d like to develop it into a longer form film about the Yukon. We caught up with Adrian to ask him a few questions.
MadeGood – Please give me a bit of background on yourself as a film maker. Is this film about the Yukon the usual type of film you make?
Adrian – I’ve always been drawn to social cinema, films that blur the line between documentary and fiction. I’m inspired by filmmakers like Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, American Honey) and Jonas Carpignano (A Ciambra, Mediterranea). These are films that feel real to me, that present characters slash subjects, communities, situations that feel familiar. So far, I’ve been creating mostly documentary and with any commercial or music video work I’ve done, there’s always been a social message that drives it. Through my youth engagement community work with non-profit TakingITGlobal, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to travel to northern remote Indigenous communities across Canada and share voices and stories. My films have come to life through this journey and the learning with people and places I’ve connected with.
MadeGood – Do you have a personal connection with the Yukon, or what inspired you to make a film about it? What is your personal connection with the interviewee in the film?
Adrian – I’ve visited the Yukon a few times over the last years. It is an absolute magical place. The land is a moving force and the people who live there have big hearts. It’s a place that offers something different for each person. I first met Doronn, the subject in the film, at a community gathering. He quickly became like an older brother to me. We spent a lot of time driving in his truck around Whitehorse and going out on the land. He’s passionate about youth cultural revitalisation. Just a few weeks ago, we were out on the land in his bush camp with a few youth from the community to experience the power of land-based practices as ways of growing, learning and healing.
Also, on side note, I’ve noticed there’s been this military raid approach in which filmmaking has transformed into, this idea of coming to a location, shooting it, conquering it and leaving it behind. On the contrary, I try to introduce myself into a new environment first as a person with my strengths and vulnerabilities, as a friend before filmmaker, often not bringing my camera until later on. It’s important to do a lot of listening. Developing trust plays a big part.
MadeGood – I love watching stuff shot on film, what made you chose Super 8 as a format? Do you often work with film? How does it differently inform your film making process, when compared to digital?
Adrian – I would say most of my projects are shot entirely on film or have film segments in them. Being self taught, shooting on film has been my education to filmmaking. I was first drawn to it by the natural qualities it projected and how well it complimented certain narratives. It puts you in a different mindset. It allows you to be more present in the experience, to feel more, to reflect and react more naturally in the moment to the situation. There’s nothing to physically look over. It forces you to rely on your senses and trust your instincts.
MadeGood – What are you working on next?
Adrian – I’m working on a short documentary series highlighting young people in Canada who are creating change in their community. I’m also currently writing my first narrative short film screenplay, something new for me, which I’m very excited to explore.
I’m hoping to develop ‘The Land’ into a longer format documentary with Doronn which shares an intimate reflection into personal triumphs and vulnerabilities that a relationship with the land can bring.
MadeGood – Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Adrian. Would love to see a feature version of The Land.