Pulled forth by her spirited team of huskies, Sarah McNair-Landry’s My 2020 spans the course of its titular year (from April onwards). For McNair-Landry, known to many as an outdoors fanatic as well as the director of the film Never Lose Sight, Taking Shape (2009), the experimental art film/installation Gauge (2015), and several other outdoor adventure films, 2020 was a chapter saturated with extreme sports, recreational tourism and Arctic landscapes. Her latest documentary reflects just that. My 2020 follows McNair-Landry and her partner Erik Boomer as they travel from Iqaluit to Idaho and make a pit stop at an Ottawa hotel. Propelling, or rather, slowing down the film, are the effects of COVID-19 on the pair’s thirst for adventure. Watch as the filmmaker embarks on a journey from Nunavut –– “the territory you never finish discovering,” in her words –– and discovers plenty more about the silent power of wide-open spaces.
The success of McNair-Landry’s film is that it manages to be both meditative and kinetic all at once. My 2020 is a remarkable feat that echoes the existential contradictions of the lockdown years, as faced by many: time moving both slow and fast, spaces being full of potential and yet sorely lacking in possibility, familiar faces being ever-present –– and others, suddenly absent.
Moving from place to place in their tight cluster of two, McNair-Landry and Boomer deliver a delicate, equilibrial portrait of the pandemic experience, revealing variations on our kneejerk understandings of isolation. With many of us still trying to make sense of the past few years to adapt to life affected by the pandemic, My 2020 comes at the perfect time to hold space for all that is paradoxical, jumpstarting explorations into important questions about loneliness, tourism and freedom that we once couldn’t stop thinking about. Now’s the time to look back on that tumultuous year and process what we have been too preoccupied to revisit since.