>>> Al Purdy Was Here



TIFF DOCS D: Brian D. Johnson. Canada. 92 min. Sep 15, 7 pm TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 Sep 17, 4:45 pm Isabel Bader. See tiff.net. Rating: NNNN

Let’s hope Brian D. Johnson’s excellent documentary about Al Purdy sparks a poetry revival in this country. At the very least it should generate interest in Purdy, who cultivated a regular-guy image while writing poems of the utmost craft.

Although his subject died in 2000, he comes fully alive through archival interviews (Purdy gave good quote) and recollections by his editor, poet friends (Margaret Atwood even plays pool at the Pilot) and Purdy’s widow, Eurithe.

Johnson, a former senior film critic at Maclean’s, successfully interweaves a lot of elements, including the restoration of Al and Eurithe’s A-frame cabin in Prince Edward County for use by poets, the fundraising concert for the restoration and haunting sequences of musicians performing works inspired by Purdy. We also get amusing tweets from Queen’s Park’s @statueofalpurdy.

Johnson leaves the toughest questions – about Purdy’s personal life – until the end so they have maximum emotional impact.   



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