Plaza to host environmental film screening at Rossellini farm
The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center will film “Nanook of the North” with a commentary by Isabella Rossellini as well as an appearance of contemporary artist Tanya Taraq.

Courtesy photo

Plaza to host environmental film screening at Rossellini farm

Story By: LINDA LEUZZI
9/6/2019


Film clips of one of the first environmental documentaries with comments by actress Isabella Rossellini and how its creator influenced her famous director father along with experimental vocalist and Bjork collaborator Tanya Tagaq, are scheduled for The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center program at Rossellini’s farm, Saturday, September 14.

The classic 1922 silent film, “Nanook of the North” by Robert Flaherty, will be shown under the stars. Flaherty captured the lives and challenges of an Inuk native who lived in the Canadian Arctic and his family in their quest for food, trading, and survival. Tagaq, a contemporary artist who grew up in the most northerly part of Canada herself, will perform after the film using a technique of Inuit throat singing, a form of musical performance. She will also read from her memoir “Split Tooth.”

Plaza Cinema Executive Director commented that Tagaq’s “Animism” won the Polaris Prize for best Canadian album; her show in Toronto last year was sold out.

“She’s an activist and isn’t shying away pollution, militaristic masculinity, the Me Too movement, and how we are abusing natives as well as the Earth,” Oberg said.

“You have the Inuits in that area desperately in need of the ice and water to live and it’s being threatened by global warming. She’s a powerful woman who’s gained notoriety. The only reason she’s doing our event is because of Isabella.”

Rossellini talked to the Advanceby phone from Paris.

She had met Tagaq at a Metropolitan Museum of Art TEDX Met talk in 2015 after discussing her Green Porno films.

“She sang afterwards,” recalled Rossellini. “I was blown away. It’s very exotic and is based on strange sounds and breathing and the rage and fear came across very clearly. She wrote a beautiful book about the Inuits and how, like all natives, their culture has been wiped out.”

Bjork and Tagaq’s album will be played in the background as people gather that night.

Rossellini has championed silent films for years with imaginative screenings at her farm. Oberg, she said, was aiming for an environmental film, but the matchup of utilizing “Nanook of the North,” which emphasizes that aspect, with Tagaq’s quest and unusual artistry made sense.

“My father was also very inspired by “Nanook,” she said, of another tie in.

Roberto Rossellini began making films just after World War II in 1945 and traveled to Berlin where he followed a child with one camera as he described the devastation and a desperate population. Three decades earlier, Flaherty had been an explorer and prospector along the Hudson Bay for the Canadian Pacific Railway. He was drawn to the people living there, took a course in cinematography, and using a Bell and Howell camera, began filming them. It was a process and took a few years before “Nanook” became a reality, but with and it was born a form of docudrama.

 “He moved the camera very similarly to my father,” said Rossellini of Flaherty. “What they saw was very interesting. Flaherty was covered with ice and cold and it was difficult to have a crew. But both were able to cover images. Flaherty’s story was the Arctic Circle and for my father, it was conditions right after the War. They couldn’t tell stories with very big means but the films are incredibly moving. The camera is held at eye level, so there are little things I will underline so you can understand the circumstances. So the first part of the show we’ll screen `Nanook’ and how Flaherty inspired my father’s films 74 years ago, and then now we have a contemporary artist which is Tanya, talking about nature and its devastation.”

A screening hosted by The Plaza Cinema & Media Arts Center with Isabella Rossellini at Rossellini’s farm, 279 South Country Road in Brookhaven, on September 14 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. will feature film clips of “Nanook of the North” as well as experimental vocalist and artist Tanya Tagaq. For tickets, visit www.plazamac.org.