2014 Sundance Docs in Focus: MY PRAIRIE HOME

my prairie homeLaunching into the second half of this year’s World Cinema Documentary Competition: From Canada, Chelsea McMullan’s MY PRAIRIE HOME, following a transgender performer through a tour of personal and geographical history.

Sundance Program Description:

With only an acoustic guitar and a laptop, transgender singer/songwriter Rae Spoon, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” embarks on a modest tour across the vast and blue-skied plains of Canada, facilitated by Greyhound buses and generic motel rooms. Delicately observed through Spoon’s contemplative moments, MY PRAIRIE HOME takes an impressionistic approach to its subject, thwarting the expectations of a traditional music documentary. The film poetically weaves together Spoon’s personal history of an evangelical household back in Alberta, a troubled family life, and a forbidden first love—all of which left indelible marks on their lyrics and are brought to life through playful, music-video–like visual sequences.

Within the first moments of the film, director Chelsea McMullan visually cues the audience to subvert its expectations, preparing us to spend intimate time with her subject, who sees the world in their own way. A particular joy comes from delving into an artist’s world of music and musings; discovering Rae Spoon is this film’s biggest reward.

Some Background:
McMullan has had previous films screen at Toronto, and premiered this, her third feature-length, at Vancouver last year. Producer Lea Marin has also screened past projects at Toronto, such as Astra Taylor’s EXAMINED LIFE. Serving as executive producer is Silva Basmajian of the National Film Board of Canada, whose past Sundance credits include STORIES WE TELL (2013) and SKI BUMS (2002).

Why You Should Watch:
A welcome spin on the familiar conventions of both music docs and transgender portraits, McMullan’s film playfully combines Spoon’s story with appealingly quirky and lovingly-lensed music video performance segments, such as the opener, in which the musician walks around the patrons of a truck-stop diner while performing a song. As Spoon makes their way across Canada by Greyhound, reflections on love, sexuality, gender identity, religion, small town life, and family mental illness combine to create an intriguing portrait of otherness and the potential of music to successfully and meaningfully navigate difference.

More Info:
Check out the film’s trailer. For more information about the film, visit its website and Facebook page. As they become available, I’ll link to McMullan’s Meet the Artist Sundance video profile and to her Indiewire filmmaker interview. For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance filmmaker class of 2014 Twitter list.

1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

One response to “2014 Sundance Docs in Focus: MY PRAIRIE HOME

  1. Pingback: Classic Short From The National Film Board Circa 1952 Doesn’t End The Way You Expect | Pogobrain

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