As we come out of the winter months, and COVID restrictions ease up, you might find yourself looking for good films to watch on your own, or in company, to distract you from the 24/7 news cycle. You might also feel overwhelmed by the constant new releases from streaming sites like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, or Hulu, which often favour quantity over quality. Slow down and walk back into the archive of current and vintage films with Mubi, one of the best streaming services to offer a global selection of films and documentaries. Mubi’s curated archive of films “strange” and “alternative” is unrestricted by genre and allows the viewer to discover movies previously only known by true cinephiles. As a Canadian, I often found myself looking for those few Canadian titles available in the collection. Here, I have taken it upon myself to assemble my four favourite films made by lesser-known creators that Mubi specializes in showcasing.
?E?ANX (The Cave): Helen-Haig Brown. 2009
The Cave, a ten-minute short film directed by Hellen-Haig Brown, begins with narration by her great-uncle, Henry Solomon, who introduces the Tsilhqot’in tale passed down to him by a friend. Edmond Lulula is a bear-hunter, who stumbles upon a cave in Tsilhqot’in Nen (Chilcotin Territory) in Western Canada, where he finds something otherworldly. Brown pleases with stunning cinematography which enhances the fantastical nature of the Tsilhqot’in story.
You Are Here: Daniel Cockburn. 2010
Cockburn’s You Are Here is guided by the voice of a narrator who looks to bring us a long on an exploration of the mind, testing its viewers ability to theorize. It illustrates the functions of human memory and decision making: a woman catalogues records of information she struggles to understand as a whole. All of its surreal scenes work as analogies for neurological problem solving and the phenomenon of mass consciousness.
Amy George: Calivin Thomas, Yonah Lewis. 2011
Watching this film, some might find themselves relating to the thirteen-year-old Jesse’s feelings of inadequacy as he looks around himself for inspiration to become a true artist. Others might find his dissatisfaction with his middle-class lifestyle and affectionate parents troublesome. Regardless of your takeaway, Amy George is bound to invoke nostalgic thoughts of childhood, the good and the bad. This movie highlights the small awkward moments of growing up through its realistic and sincere dialogue and scene direction. You might find yourself disliking Jesse, he wishes for a more exciting and chaotic, but if you’re anything like me, you may pity his misguided ideas of artistry.
A Colony: Genevieve Dulude de Celles. 2018
Dulude de Celles’ first feature is another coming-of-age film, decorated with several award wins and nominations. We follow a twelve-year-old Mylia entering her first year of high school, where she brings her social anxieties about her country upbringing, tumultuous home life, and history with bullying. When looking for new friends to connect with, she finds herself torn between the popular but ill-mannered Jacinthe and the outcast Indigenous boy Jimmy. You will undoubtedly empathize with Mylia’s longing to belong as you watch her navigate the difficulties of peer pressure, parental alienation, and institutionalized racism.
These are a few of my recent favourites, but once you discover the cavernous depth of Mubi’s selection, I am sure you will find a whole bunch of more you will like just as much, or even more so. Other lesser-known films on my watchlist that you might also enjoy are Maxime Giroux’s The Great Darkened Days, or Kyle Thomas’ The Valley Below.