New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media


This article is from our magazine. To view it in its original format, click here

The Northlander

By Gary Wien

originally published: 01/21/2017

The Northlander

The Northlander is a science fiction film unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  In fact, as the first theatrical feature film in the sub genre of indigenous futurism, it’s unlike anything anybody’s ever seen.

Director Benjamin Ross Hayden (a Canadian Métis - part Aboriginal, part European) describes the genre as having a spiritual perspective against the colonial narrative of science fiction fantasy. Essentially the film is about a quest for identity, a search for answers, and a fight for survival. It’s kind of like a Mad Max film with a higher purpose that features an all-First Nations cast.

The film takes place in the year 2961 in a post-apocalyptic setting.  A small remote village called Last Arc is being threatened by the Heretics, a merciless group of raiders. Food and water are growing sparce.  In a desperate attempt to save her people from annihilation, Nova, a matriarch and seer (played by Michelle Thrush), calls upon a lone and complicated hunter, Cygnus (Corey Sevier), to find the answers to their survival. As Cygnus leaves his wooded homeland, embarking upon a perilous journey through the desert, he encounters the vicious leader of the Heretics, Torki (Julian Black Antelope). A newfound ally, the lone huntress Mari (Roseanne Supernault) is revealed and together Cygnys and Mari begin an epic journey and a race against time to unlock some of earth’s deepest secrets in a desperate attempt to save Last Arc and lead their people to a new way of life.

All of this takes place in an absolutely breathtaking landscape that adds to the film’s authenticity.  The film was shot in Drumheller, the Bow Valley Ranch west of Calgary and Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park (a spiritually significant site) near the Alberta-Montana border.   

“It’s an important valley for many indigenous tribes and people who crossed the land in the 1700s and 1800s,” explained Hayden.  “Filming against the very setting where the history of the Métis happened is important for The Northlander.”



The article continues after this ad

 


Once the guardians and stewards of the land understood what Hayden’s film was about, they gave him permission to film on the land.  The story - and the film - not only showcase indigenous people in a positive light, it helps tell a story of Canadian history many may not know.

From the very first draft, Hayden says he set out to take Canadian history and turn it into a mythic fantasy - similar to the way Greek mythology has been used in all types of cinematic storytelling.

In addition to the beautiful backdrop, the film features an impressive cast of indigenous actors that you might recognize from the Canadian television show Blackstone, which can be found on Netflix.  The film also takes advantage of wonderful costumes and makeup accentuate the tribes.

“It all started with a very harmonized vision of what this future would look like,” said Hayden.  “It involved fuzing indigenous regalia with the futurist designs of John Gerard (working as Moebish) of the 1960s.”

Gerard played a role in science fiction films like Alien and Tron, and is said to have inspired filmmakers from George Lucas to Ridley Scott.  His influence can be seen in the costumes and weapon designs found in The Northlander.

The Northlander

The film was part of Canada’s Telefilm Micro Budget Program, but the final version looks anything but low budget.  Hayden took advantage of great actors, beautiful scenery, and wonderful costumes to fulfill his vision of this futuristic land.  He says he never felt constrained by the limited budget and actually preferred doing it this way.

“It was what I was used to,” he said.  “Finding creative solutions felt very natural.  I felt good under that type of framework.”

The budget hasn’t stopped the film from being shown at prestigious film festivals around the world from Montreal to Mexico to the legendary Cannes Film Festival in France. The film is now being sold into international markets and will be broadcast on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. Hayden said a Canadian TV series based on Northlander is confirmed in development with Canada Media Fund.

Locally, the film will be screened in New Brunswick on Saturday, January 28 when it is part of the opening night for New Jersey Film Festival Spring 2017. This is Hayden’s debut feature film, but a previous short of his called “Agophobia” was screened at the festival in 2013 and received awards for Best Short Film and Best Experimental Short Film.  An even earlier work called “Pick” also received an Experimental Short Film award.

Hayden is currently working on a script called Red River, which is set between the historical past and the present.  The film will be an international co-production.  He plans to continue directing films that he has written himself.  With the futuristic world created in his first feature film, many are looking forward to what his own future holds.

The New Jersey Film Festival is held annually on the Rutgers University campus in New Brunswick.

 





For more by this author, click here






Monmouth Arts Presents Sneak Peek Screening of “Never Look Away”
(RED BANK, NJ) -- See the movie before New York or Los Angeles! Monmouth Arts will provide another installation of its “Film Sneak Peek” series with Never Look Away, an epic tale of art and history spanning three turbulent decades of 20th-century Germany, on November 29 at Bow Tie Cinemas in Red Bank at 7:00pm. 
"The Brighton Bar - Home Of Original Music" Documentary To Be Screened In Long Branch
(LONG BRANCH, NJ) -- From the 1970s to today the Brighton Bar has been a live music venue and a staple of the New Jersey music scene.  On Wednesday, November 28th at 7:00pm, a free showing of The Brighton Bar - Home Of Original Music  - a documentary about the venue will be screened at The NJ Rep West End Arts Center.
Westfield IFF and James Ward Mansion Host Pop-Up Gin Joint with Movies at the Mansion
(WESTFIELD, NJ) -- Big Dreams & Silver Screens, the organization responsible for the Westfield International Film Festival, is happy to announce their end-of-year celebration and fundraiser, “Of All the Gin Joints” on December 6 at the James Ward Mansion. The evening is a Casablanca-inspired party that will feature a pop-up gin bar, light bites by Feast Catering, live music by Tony Mowatt, and a screening of Casablanca.  Westfield native, Francesca Rizzo will also be screening a complementary independent noir short film, Sullivan’s Last Call – “a sexy little film about celibacy.”
2018 International Film Festival Brings 4 Award Winning Foreign Films To Vineland
(VINELAND, NJ) -- Enjoy four highly-acclaimed award-winning recent foreign films representing diverse cultures at the 2018 International Film Festival, starting Monday, November 26, at the Levoy Theatre, 126-130 N. High St., Millville, NJ. The four films—A Fantastic Woman, The Interpreter, 1945, and Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me—will introduce the theatergoer to the universality of themes that are common to Jewish and other international themes. They are representative of the finest of today’s international cinematographic art.
NJSO presents Star Wars: A New Hope in concert on Thanksgiving weekend
(NEWARK, NJ) --The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra presents screenings of the complete film Star Wars: A New Hope with Oscar-winning composer John Williams’ musical scores performed live on Thanksgiving weekend, November 23–25. Performances take place in Red Bank, Newark, and New Brunswick.


REVIEW: "First Man"
The image that most defines the 20th century is that of a man standing on the surface of the moon. The man is astronaut Neil Armstrong, but we can’t see his face as he’s wearing a helmet, the glass of which reflects our collective achievement back at us. When he took a small step, we all took a giant leap with him, and Armstrong instantly became more than a mere man, a symbol. With First Man, director Damien Chazelle takes us inside the famous helmet, stripping away the symbol to tell the story of Armstrong the man.
REVIEW: "Halloween"
In 2013, John Carpenter’s Halloween received a 35th anniversary blu-ray release. The accompanying booklet credited the following line of dialogue to Jamie Lee Curtis’s babysitting heroine Laurie Strode: “Was it the boogeyman?” Of course, that’s a misquote. In the scene in question, Laurie admits to herself that “It WAS the boogeyman,” to which Donald Pleasence’s Doctor Loomis solemnly replies, “As a matter of fact, it was.”
REVIEW: "Cold War"
Back in 2006, German cinema scored something of a breakout global hit with Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others, which followed the travails of a group of disgruntled, pro-western artists in communist era East Germany. At the time I couldn’t help viewing the protagonists of Von Donnersmarck’s drama as the sort of people who would be just as discontented with their lot if they found themselves living in the capitalist west. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Baba Babee Skazala
Among the many intriguing films being screened at New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018, one title immediately caught our eye — Baba Babee Skazala: Grandmother Told Grandmother.  
NJ Film Fest Preview: October 2018
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- The New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 runs from September 14 to October 26 on the Rutgers University Campus in New Brunswick, NJ. Showcasing new international films, American independent features, animation, experimental and short subjects, and cutting-edge documentaries, the New Jersey Film Festival Fall 2018 will feature over 30 film screenings.  






Event calendar
Monday, Nov 12, 2018


MUSIC

DAVID SANCIOUS & WILL CALHOUN @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:00pm

WHEN BROADWAY GOES DARK, VAN DYK GOES LIVE @ Bergen Performing Arts Center (bergenPAC), Englewood - 7:00pm

Bickford Benefit All-Stars @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 7:30pm

In Dreams: Roy Orbison in Concert – The Hologram Tour @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

MUDDFEST 2019 @ Mainstage @ Union County Performing Arts Center (UCPAC), Rahway - 7:00pm


THEATRE

Elf The Musical @ Count Basie Center For The Arts, Red Bank - 7:30pm

Auditions: Cinderella or the Story of Bigfoot @ Studio Playhouse Upper Montclair, Upper Montclair - 6:30pm







FILM

Free Solo @ The Newton Theatre, Newton - 7:00pm


LITERATURE


View all events










 






















For more on our awards, click here








New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 | info@newjerseystage.com

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.