ANCIENT TRADITIONS GIVEN NEW LIFE WITH TWO FESTIVAL DOCS
Having the subject of a documentary appear alongside the filmmakers after a screening is one of the great things about seeing a film at the Festival, as it gives the audience a chance to get a more intimate sense of the person and show their appreciation for the work.
Last year, one of the highlights of the Festival was the appearance of country singer Chely Wright and filmmakers Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf after the world premiere of Chely Wright: Wish Me Away. That film, which tells the story of the singer’s coming out as a lesbian and was released in theaters this month to strong reviews, won last year’s Best Documentary Feature award.
This year, the world premiere of Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives recreated that same sense of a “moment” by bringing together a community of about 50 midwives along with numerous pregnant women to see Gaskin and directors Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore.
Generations of women who have turned to Gaskin’s book, Spiritual Midwifery, for guidance will know how the ancient tradition of midwife-assisted birth was all but lost when a group of farm commune women in the 1970s, out of necessity, revived the tradition of home birth. As the film shows, many of the women who had babies on the farm became part of this midwife community that still exists.
Using archival footage and contemporary interviews the film gives voice to a movement that is credited with reforming the way women give birth. During the film we travel along with them hearing their history and are imparted with their wisdom.
Screening earlier in the week was Canícula, another film about a group of people continuing their ancient cultural traditions. Set in a native village in Veracruz, Mexico, Canícula shows us a community that has successfully managed to keep and grow its ancient traditions.
One tradition known as the Dance of the Flyers, is slowly revealed over the course of the film. This ritual is performed to bring health, fertility and well being to the village. Other traditions of the village and the people that practice them are shown in a clean, pure light.
Using a rich visual vocabulary that captures the textures and colors of the village and its people, director Jose Alvarez illuminates this village in a poetic and insightful manner. It’s a film where music and visual story telling techniques are key ingredients that slowly reveal the artistic talent and the heart of the people.
Viewers looking for a chance to travel down a path where folklore and community tradition can open their heart are provided a gateway in these films.
—by Jim Lichacz for Film Independent
Birth Story screens again Saturday, June 23 at 7:30pm. Click here for more information.
June 23rd, 2012 • No Comments