“Lots of people come north with this romantic notion of living in the wilds,” says Sovereign Soil director David Curtis, “but as soon as the first snow comes, they tend to scatter.”
Now available to stream for free at NFB.ca, Sovereign Soil shares the experiences of people who tough it out with subsistence living. Curtis’s film follows a varied cast of characters as they learn the hardships and rewards of living off the land up north, from a German horticulturalist to Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in youth. Curtis, who himself has lived off-grid for over 20 years, shows how individuals and families alike can survive in harmony with nature, although the lifestyle certainly isn’t for everyone. It’s an eco doc that invites audiences to learn nature’s cycles and understand the natural rhythms that fuel us. Even if roughing it in the bush isn’t one’s preferred lifestyle, these characters can teach us a lot about inviting sustainable practices into our daily habits.
“Our disconnect from the land is at the core of our potential demise,” says Curtis in a Q&A with the NFB. “People don’t spend time experiencing the seasons and connecting with their environment. We don’t realize we are still part of nature and so dependent on it, until it slaps us in the face and our home is flooded, or a forest fire burns us out. We have to have a more reciprocal relationship with nature to get back in touch with what is happening around us.”
Reviewing the film during its festival run, POV editor Marc Glassman remarked, “Sovereign Soil is a fascinating film, filled with mavericks who have moved to the Yukon, around Dawson City, to make a living as farmers… It’s a truly positive film in which men and women, acting as partners, come up with solutions to the climate and the land in order to grow the crops they need to make a living in a place that they love.”
Watch Sovereign Soil today from the NFB:
Sovereign Soil, David Curtis, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
Synopsis: Set in the northern wilds surrounding the tiny sub-Arctic town of Dawson City, Yukon, Sovereign Soil is an ode to the beauty of this ferocious, remote land and the wisdom of those who’ve chosen to call it home.
Presented in partnership with the NFB.