Almost every review I read about our next film, Falls Around You, expressed how astounded the reviewers were that this movie is the first starring role for Canada’s Tantoo Cardinal.
After almost five decades in the business and more than 100 roles to her credit, as they all said, “It’s about time.” The role was written specifically for her by Canadian Indigenous filmmaker Darlene Naponse and Cardinal rises to the occasion, delivering a thoroughly captivating performance.
She plays Mary Birchbark, an Indigenous singer who has built a successful music career, but the years of touring have taken their toll. One night after a concert, fatigued by the demands and the grind of her career, she quietly slips away from the stage. She returns to her traditional home in Northern Ontario, to reconnect with the land and to recharge.
After her years of struggle as a First Nations woman in the entertainment industry, Mary has become closely guarded and tight lipped. She isolates herself from family and friends and struggles to adjust to the quieter life, still wrestling with the fame and the outside world she left behind. Her cautiousness suggests she has spent much of her life looking over her shoulder. Slowly her spirit heals as she is awakened by the quiet beauty of the land, yet she has a persistent dread that someone may be watching her – but who and for what reason?
Falls Around Her is an empowering story of a woman reclaiming control of her life. As Courtney Small of cinemaaxis.com so astutely said of Cardinal’s character Mary Birchbark: “She is the embodiment of countless First Nations women who have had to take matters into their own hands to free themselves of those who treated their minds and bodies as controllable and disposable commodities.”
Falls Around Her plays at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 9 at the Salmar Classic Cinema.