Canada’s cottage-country cultural elite pay tribute in Al Purdy Was Here

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      Al Purdy Was Here (Canada)

      Canada’s greatest poet receives a warm and eminently watchable tribute from critic turned filmmaker Brian D. Johnson, making his debut.

      Abundant archival footage brings us close to the rangy, difficult, bearlike man (Sterling Hayden could have played him), often with a stubby in his hand. If matters are a little suffocated by Canada’s cottage-country cultural elite—Margaret Atwood, Michael Ondaatje, Gord Downie, they’re all here—footage of Tanya Tagaq and Jesse Zubot recording an electrifying “Say the Names” with novelist Joseph Boyden bridges the coasts, reminding us that the very unacademic Purdy knew every inch of this country.

      Don Stewart of MacLeod’s Books also provides a great anecdote about his first encounter with the poet in Vancouver.

      December 4 and 5 at the Whistler Film Festival.