VIFF review: "Evan's Drum" shows a little boy's pride in connecting with Inuit traditions

Inuk journalist and filmmaker Ossie Michelin spent two years gathering footage in a part of the country that few Canadians visit.

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      Labrador Inuk journalist and filmmaker Ossie Michelin's charming short film, "Evan's Drum", opens with an intriguing statement.

      "The sound of Inuit drum dancing fell silent for generations in Labrador," the on-screen message says. "In the early 21st Century, the drum returned. Now a new generation of drum dancers is passing along the tradition to the next.”

      The rest of the 14-minute National Film Board production brings to life how this is occurring within one such family in Happy Valley–Goose Bay.

      The star of the film is Evan Winters, a precocious and joyful little boy with a fascination for drumming. He lights up as he learns rhythmic, swaying Inuit dancing and drumming from his mother Amy. The pride on his face is palpable.

      This dreamy and beautifully shot film brings to life a part of the country that few Canadians visit. It starts with Evan as a five-year-old snuggling up to his mother's pregnant belly, and ends with him drumming with his mom on a beach two years later.

      Many of us have witnessed Indigenous drumming in other provinces, but the swaying shoulder movements associated with Inuit drum dancing have their own hypnotic rhythm. 

      The ancient tradition of creating these rich and deep instruments in a 21st-century home offers a hopeful message that it is indeed possibly to marry Indigenous traditions with modern conveniences to enjoy happier lives.

      Video: Watch a clip from Ossie Michelin's "Evan's Drum".