Beau Dick is a famed artist, activist, mask carver and musician. He has teaching residency at the University of British Columbia. He is also native Canadian, which is the reason mainstream Americans have never heard of him. The emblem of a truly great artist is the ability to give form to the intangible. Tapping into the collective memory of his people and breathing new life into an age-old tradition, Beau Dick is one such artist.
The film begins with a beautiful shot of Alert Bay. The Village of Alert Bay is a municipality on beautiful Cormorant Island, northeast of Vancouver Island. It is the home town of Beau Dick. There are many stunning shots of British Columbia interspersed throughout the film, the film likely being positive incentive for B.C. tourism. The film goes on to detail the history of the man and his ancestors before he became famous.
The question is why anyone would be interested in Beau Dick. Or why anyone would want to spend 90 minutes learning about his life. The reason is simply that the man is inspirational. What he has done for his culture and people is remarkable and there are major lessons to be learnt from Beau Dick.
The film takes time to unfold. A bit of patience is needed but the waiting pays off. Directors Boll and Fazakas realize that it takes time to establish the roots behind Dick’s actions, especially the political marches. One political march that took place stretched all the way from B.C. to Ottawa which culminated with the breaking of a copper body plate. It sounds silly but it is a native tradition that had not been practised for ages.
Among those interviewed are his two daughters from his ex-wife and his ex-wife herself. A biologist studying the humpback whales in Victoria is yet another who gives her input on the importance of the environment as Dick fights for the environment as well. She provides insight on wild and farmed salmon fishing, which is new to me. One should be able to tell when eating wild vs. farmed salmon from the colour and texture of the fillets.
One of the directors, Fazakas is an art gallery owner herself. She turns the camera on herself as she describes Beau Dick. praising him for the emotion in his work.
Beau Dick has had bad days in his life. He had been on the wagon for 10 years after succumbing to alcohol for a full twenty years. He was also addicted to crack cocaine before getting his life straight. The film has him confessing about his addiction but never comes back to it. Directors Boll and Fazakas stress his positive contributions to his people and Canada.
The film will be playing initially two shows, one on March 29th and one on April 1st in Cineplex theatres (markets below) across Canada, then be available digitally nationally on March 30th.