Panorama | True North | Special Presentations
In this moving adaptation of Richard Wagamese’s acclaimed novel, director Stephen Campanelli condemns Canada’s most deplorable injustice while celebrating our national game’s transcendent power. Torn from his Ojibwe family as a child in the 1950s, Saul Indian Horse is left to languish in an Ontario residential school, where he’s forbidden to speak his own language and faced with corporal punishment for the slightest transgression. Undaunted, Saul finds salvation on a sheet of ice, where he demonstrates a hockey sense that allows him to slip bodychecks with a dancer’s grace and constantly leaves him three moves ahead of opponents. However, even when his talent provides him with an escape from the school and places him on the precipice of stardom, he can’t evade the ramifications of past abuses.
A frequent member of Clint Eastwood’s camera team, Campanelli ensures that Indian Horse is lensed in inspired fashion, contrasting the claustrophobic confines of the school that restricts Saul’s self-expression with the expansive canvas of the ice where he’s allowed to demonstrate an artist’s flair. Abetted by Dennis Foon’s empathetic script, the director also elicits tremendous performances from the three actors—Sladen Peltier, Forrest Goodluck and Ajuawak Kapashesit—who play our guides through Saul’s two decades of trials and triumphs. Saul’s resolve and strength in his struggle ultimately serve as a testament to the Indigenous peoples’ indomitable spirit.