Think of the last time when art stopped you in your tracks ... when a film, book or garment made you laugh, scowl, think or even cry. When it challenged your perspective or made you change your stubborn mind. Canadian art that made a big impression on me recently has ranged from fashion (Celine Dion’s fabulous style renaissance) to the television series The Handmaid’s Tale based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopic novel, to the documentary Rumble, The Indians who Rocked the World, from Montreal-based Rezolution Pictures.
Rumble is the title of an instrumental created in 1957 by Link Wray (of Shawnee blood) that is now considered to be a crucial link between blues and rock and roll. Bob Dylan described it as “the best instrumental ever”. Starting with this revolutionary music – Rumble is the only instrumental song banned from radio as its raw chords were believed to be a threat to polite society - the documentary then backs up and traces the evolution of popular music (blues to heavy metal and hip-hop) by pioneering Native American musicians. Featuring concert footage, archives and commentary by respected Canadians such as half-Mohawk Robbie Robertson and Cree folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie and notables including director Martin Scorsese, Quincy Jones and Iggy Pop, the documentary puts a laser focus on the political neglect of music’s indigenous influence. What intrigued me most was the thread running through the film of the persistence and courage in getting the musicians’ global contributions acknowledged after decades of intentional neglect. I never knew anything about this purposeful silence in an art form that I’ve always loved.
I likely would have missed this screening if it weren’t for the exclusive invitation by Scotia Wealth Management to the Enriched Thinking series in Vancouver last month. In May, Rumble was the winner of the Hot Docs Audience Award, and Rogers Audience Award for Best Canadian Documentary. Rather than just attending an ordinary film screening, I felt that I was part of something larger and more special. Before it started, co-director Alfonso Maiorana chatted with me about the challenges of tracking down his numerous interview subjects (it took his team three years to get an hour with Martin Scorsese) to the recent premiere in New York where Oscar buzz started to hum.
Props to Scotia Wealth Management for their support of Arts, culture and heritage in communities across Canada, and for offering special experiences to their partners, clients and communities to really engage with various Art forms. In the past, I’ve supported and attended many of their events including the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival. Events like these have exposed me to the art that I surround myself with. My Instagram bio notes that I "live a life of colourful style" – and I can’t imagine a world without art.
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