NFB

Watch as ‘Evan’s Drum’ Dances to the Heartbeat of a Community

Short doc is streaming for free from the NFB

3 mins read

“I’m really happy he’s learning how to drum so that he can pass it on to the next generation and hopefully keep it going,” says Amy Winters in Evan’s Drum. Amy is teaching her young son Evan the art of traditional Inuit drum dancing. This doc from Inuk filmmaker Ossie Michelin, which is now streaming for free from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) as part of the Labrador Doc Project, observes as Evan learns his roots one drum beat at a time. The film follows Amy and Evan as they receive help from filmmaker Jennie Williams (who is featured in the upcoming issue of POV) and elders who share the tradition that’s long been a part of their Labrador community.

“It was during a drum-dancing performance for the Newfoundland and Labrador Residential Schools Healing and Commemoration Project in 2018 that I first met Evan,” explains Michelin in his director’s statement. “I had seen his mom, Amy, and the other drum dancers perform many times in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. To the delight of everyone at the ceremony, Evan, who was barely five years old at the time, insisted on trying to play the drum with his mom. As Evan played, imitating his mom, I saw the pride in not just Evan’s face, but in his mother’s and everyone else present.

As Amy teaches Evan how to make a drum and harness its rhythm, Evan’s Drum offers a portrait of families rekindling with traditions that were ripped from the community within the larger impact of colonialism. The drum beat counters the years of forced silence, and evokes the heartbeat of a people finding new life. The film, moreover, screens in both English and Inuktitut from the NFB.

Watch Evan’s Drum below from the NFB

Synopsis: An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home, and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.

Evan’s Drum, Ossie Michelin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Presented in partnership with the NFB.

Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association.

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