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The shockingly cold wind that pushed against me as I scurried for the subway yesterday vied for my attention with internal images of water, earth, wood and flesh. They had penetrated my core and stirred emotions that were more compelling than the force of a Canadian winter. I had just seen Rodrigue Jean’s film, Lost Song. I suggest you do too.

Never have I seen the internal world of a new mother expressed so clearly. Jean’s camera is in intimate relationship with everything. Its vision bears no judgement. In its love, the truth of a woman’s life pours forth. We join this intimacy. Her experience becomes ours. This dissolution of boundries and unity of experience is the union the word ‘Yoga’ refers to. Sa’ham: I am She. She is me. The power of art to move us is the power of Yoga. In the emotional and psychological isolation of current yummymummyhood, Jean’s public exploration of what a woman encounters in giving birth and being a mother is crucial to our collective sanity. In the UK, the leading cause of death for women in the first year of a baby’s life is suicide. The grief and despair this statistic points to needs to be seen and heard. We need to know that the pain we experience is not a cause for shame but is a personal expression of our society’s repression of the Feminine.

In an interview with ‘The Globe and Mail’, Jean said that it took him five years to make the film because “it was almost impossible to finance because of the subject matter.” His persistence paid off with Lost Song winning the Best Canadian Feature Film prize last year at the Toronto International Film Festival. The panel said Jean, “has crafted a spare and uncompromising film- rife with humanity…” The destruction wreaked in the lead character’s instinct for wholeness and connection strikes a visceral chord in me. Like Kali, her chaos is in the service of rebirth. The lush fertility of Quebec’s lakes and woods draws her towards union with life. In the shelter of the roots of a fir tree, she is able to nurse her child again. Empty formula cans leave a trail like Goldilock’s bread crumbs. The question of who is the Witch is left hanging. 

Jean said he has spent the last twenty-five years exploring his interest in the myth of Medea. He said, “Canada got a blame from the United Nations about how we treat our children and our poor…When the child is actually there, and it needs all that a child needs, the society, the couple, are not there. That’s the big picture that informs the film.” The actual film is made of little pictures. The ripples made on water when a naked man dives in. The curve of a woman’s belly on summer rumpled sheets. The words of a mother-in-law and priest. The sounds of wild animals under the roof. Jean doesn’t answer why, amidst such beauty, disassociation and the yearning for union occurs. He shows us how and leaves us simultaneously sweating and chilled to the bone.

Lost Song is playing at the Cineplex Odeon Carlton (416.598.2309). The film is in French with English subtitles.

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