Guardians Of Eternity

Situated in canada’s far north, Yellowknife’s Giant Mine produced 7 million ounces of gold between 1948 and 1999. They took the gold away and left 237,000 tonnes of arsenic behind, enough to poison the entire planet several times over. Mary Rose, an aboriginal woman of the Dene people, lives in a community next to the abandoned mine. Originally the site of the mine was a traditional hunting ground where the abundance of nature flourished – now it is a toxic site for all time. Her people have become the guardians of eternity since the only way scientists believe we can manage the arsenic is to freeze it and filter water from the mine – in perpetuity. Realizing the enormity of the problem, Mary Rose sounds the alarm to her people: how will they communicate this grave danger to generations that will follow in 1000 years, in 100,000 years that there is a poison hidden under the mine? What language will our future ancestors even speak? How will we transmit the hidden danger? Build pyramids? Carve petroglyphs? She and her community need to arm themselves first with knowledge, then pass on that knowledge to future generations. She is determined to learn what she can from other aboriginal peoples that have dealt with environmental disasters, and scientists who are experts on arsenic and nuclear wastes. Her people have transmitted knowledge since time immemorial via legends. Perhaps Mary Rose needs to create a new legend about the monster that lurks beneath the Giant mine, a legend that can be transmitted from generation to generation to save the lives of her future great grand-children.

France Benoit has lived in Yellowknife for 23 ans. She has been directing films for 10 years in both French and English. Her latest film “Un pied dans la main / Hand to Toe “ was selected for Hot Docs in 2011, the first filmmaker from the Northwest Territories to be selected. This short film explores the art of giving and takes a look at a foot washing program for homeless people in Yellowknife. She is now in research and development for a major transmedia project which would continue this exploration on the art of giving by directing a dozen short films on the topic of giving in unique ways. In the fall of 2011, she directed the second one of the series on the washing of the body of a deceased person. This December, she directed a third on the annual decorating of a Christmas tree by an anonymous person on the highway leading to Yellowknife. In 2008, with Les Productions Rivard of Winnipeg, Radio-Canada and RDI, France wrote and directed “One River, Two Shores, reflections on the Mackenzie Gas Project”. The documentary discusses the environmental spiritual and socio-economic consequences of the proposed natural gas pipeline which would largely follow the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories. The film was selected to the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois in Montréal in 2009. Also in 2009, for the TVA show “Viens voir ici”, France completed a 30 minute episode on local food production in Yellowknife. It is in 2003 that she wrote, directed ad produced her first film: “Alicia and the Mystery Box” which was broadcast on PBS and screened in Puerto Rico and Miami. The film unravels the mysteries behind a box of photographs which once belonged to Alicia, a woman exiled from her native Cuba after Castro came to power and who France managed to find. Since then, she longs to make films which tell the stories of her adoptive land.

Kelly Saxberg is a film producer, director and editor in Thunder, Bay Ontario who has worked on over 70 films. She first worked with France Benoit as an editing consultant for her film on the macKenzie Valley pipeline. Kelly’s most recent work is a feature length docudrama “Under the Red Star” which she produced, directed and wrote. She was producer, cinematographer and editor for In Security, a one hour documentary directed by Ron Harpelle that looks at barbed wire, people and spaces. She directed/edited “Life is But a Dream” The only Canadian finalist of 12 for the International Documentary Challenge 2010. That same year, she completed “Citoyens du Monde” a 6 hour French language documentary series she wrote and directed for broadcaster TFO and Les Productions Rivard. Shot in 15 countries, the series tackles Canada and international development from the point of view of researchers and scientists in the developing world. “Seeking Bimaadiziiwin” was her debut as a fiction director on a 30 minute drama that looks at depression and suicide among First Nations youth; she is a co-director/ co-producer. It won Best Short film at the American Indian Film festival and several other awards. This film is part of First Nation Initiative, where she produced “Sharing Tebwewin” a half hour documentary about health care and First Nations people. “Letters from Karelia,” was Kelly’s first feature length documentary about Canadians who moved to the Soviet Union in the 1930’s. It was also nominated for a Gemini for best documentary 2006. “Dorothea Mitchell: A Reel Pioneer”, a one hour documentary is about a local effort to finish a silent movie from the 1930’s and tell the story of Canada’s first single woman homesteader, lumber mill operator and feature film scriptwriter. It airs on Bravo. In 2006, she directed the one hour French and English versioned documentary “Voyageurs Legacy: Our Story / Le printemps des voyageurs: La Genèse” for Les Productions Rivard and TFO. “Banana Split,” a documentary about the most popular fruit in Canada, that Kelly co-directed, filmed and edited. It won the first annual Deborah Fletcher Award of Excellence in Filmmaking on International development” and Best Documentary – Latin American Environmental Media Festival (2005). NFB produced “Rosies of the North,” (1999), aired on History Television, CBC, TVO, Biography, and several others.

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