[Note: This review of "Finding Farley," including Q & A with the director, initially appeared with reviews of "First Ascent: Alone on the Wall" and "Samsara" -- the second of four sets of reviews for The Union newspaper.]
Zev, a two-year-old boy, canoed hundreds of wilderness miles and sailed big open waters.With his dog, Willow, Zev spent five months experiencing Canada as few people do.OK, his parents did almost all the work.
Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer filmed their adventure, built around the title theme of “Finding Farley.”They journeyed to meet the author of a slew of books about the far reaches of Canada.They chose a route that visited many of the places that Farley Mowat had explored.(Mowat’s most famous book, perhaps, is “Never Cry Wolf.”)
Zev took to the wonders of the water and the land and the sky with much excitement and poise.You’ll admire the devotion and capability of Zev’s parents, but it’s Zev who anchors the charm of this film.
Not to slight Zev’s mom and dad, they put the grueling portages and millions of bugs and the logistics of continuously moving on into marvelous perspective.“Finding Farley” captures the size and attraction of the wilderness. They connect it, with nurturing confidence, to the elements and the animals.They connect it to people who live in these far flung places.
They stir extra chemistry into what they share so well, by evolving their respect for Farley Mowat into a relationship.
"Finding Farley trumps more impressive adventure films not only because it sidesteps the pursuit of extremes for the sake of extremes. Rather than boasting challenges and accomplishments, it hums with the vitality of several layers of respect and appreciation. = = = = = Q & A "Finding Farley" director Leanne Allison = = = = =
The following are notes from a conversation with Leanne Allison, who made the film "Finding Farley" with her husband Karsten Heuer. Chuck Jaffee: How would you compare your hundreds of miles of canoeing in the wilds of Northern Canada with people who climb Mt. Everest or scale 3000 foot tall walls of granite?
Leanne Allison: We think that what we do is natural, not extreme.People have forgotten, but they’re things humans have always done.Karsten and I have 40 years of experience in things like canoeing and rescue.
CJ: You refer to the “sheer smallness” you felt on the trip.Say a little more about what that meant to you.
LA: The landscape is so vast. It’s an amazing opportunity for our psyche to put us in our true place. It’s humbling and comforting.
CJ: How does the “sheer smallness” you experienced apply to all of us in our modern world?
LA: We tend to get caught up in our own self importance, especially as a species. Also, it gives you incredible mental strength, a sense of security being prepared in a natural way to deal with the world.
CJ: Your son, Zev, who was two when you made this journey, is precious.His presence adds such a dimension to the film. LA: He was at a perfect age where he never questioned anything.To him, it was just here’s mom, here’s dad,this is what we’re doing.He was endlessly interested in everything around him.
CJ: For people who will never be one tenth as adventurous as you, what might you suggest they do to put some adventure into their lives?
LA: Day to day, look for little things to do.We’re not pushing adventure.It’s more that you should pursue what deeply satisfies you, and not the consumer stuff that’s pushed on us.It’s about spending time together, outside with the kids, and it doesn’t have to be a five month thing.