Film Reviews

TIFF Short Docs: ‘Hand. Line. Cod’, ‘The Road to Webequie’

Courtesy of TIFF


Hand. Line. Cod.
(Canada, 12 min.)
Dir. Justin Simms
Programme: Short Cuts (World Premiere)

The phone calls for reservations Toronto’s Ruby Watcho’s Fish Fridays will be ringing off the hook after the premiere of Hand. Line. Cod. This new NFB short doc from director Justin Simms (Danny) is a wonderful portrait of cod fishermen off the coast of Fogo Island. Hand. Line. Cod offers a charming view of a classic method of fishing that dates back to the 1600s as Simms joins fisherman trolling the waters, nabbing superb cod in smaller quantities than mass-netting trawlers would catch. Whereas the trawlers encourage overconsumption, this traditional method satisfies with its sustainability.

Simms charts the cod’s journey from fishing line to plate as he chronicles the traditional fishing practice, expert cutting and cleaning, and finally (in Toronto) the gourmet preparation that brings out the fish’s rich flavour. Each stage features delicate handwork from the catching to the cutting to the cooking. Simms’ film shows that some things are best done the old way, while the intimate cinematography and folksy score evoke a similar emotion. Hand. Line. Cod is dedicated to the memory of the great NFB director Colin Low, who helmed 27 films in Fogo 50 years ago. It is fit to bear his name.

Hand. Line. Cod will be screening at Toronto’s Planet in Focus festival in mid-October.

Courtesy of TIFF


The Road to Webequie
(Canada, 19 min.)
Dir. Ryan Noth, Tess Girard
Programme: Short Cuts (World Premiere)

Filmmakers Ryan Noth and Tess Girard have created a sobering portrait of a fly-in First Nation’s community in northern Ontario in the aptly titled The Road to Webequie. Hopes for better prospects for the town’s future arise when news of a forthcoming mining operation brings murmurings that a highway may be built, giving them road access to the south. The present remains dark, though, as tales from young villagers involve the loss of friends to suicide or substance abuse. If a highway is built, Noth and Girard suggest, the cost of living up north might be lower and the futures of Webequie youths could be greater.

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