IT CAN HAPPEN HERE (Jonathan Culp) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Does caring too much make you crazy?
I don't know if that's the point of Jonathan Culp's "not a documentary" (it says it's not, right on the screen). I don't know if the film has a point. It features a lot of nausea-inducing hand-held camera work, some truly bleak scenes from Weyburn, Saskatchewan, and a look at a fascinating piece of Canadian history that I, in my inexcusable ignorance, had never heard of.
The Weyburn Mental Hospital, where Culp's great-grandfather Russell Aubrey Carman lived for 26 years, is the sparse, echoing centre of the film. Carman suffered from schizophrenia and believed he was a messenger of God.
In the basement, a mural commemorates the On To Ottawa Trek, a mass labour strike by workers from unemployment relief camps crushed by the RCMP in 1935.
Tommy Douglas, then a Baptist minister in Weyburn and an MP, fought to reform the system the workers were protesting against.
Personal and political history finally meet in Culp's footage of the late activist Tooker Gomberg. You have to care but find a balance, Tooker advised Culp.
Is Culp showing the contrast between those who could find a balance and those who couldn't? Is being "unbalanced" the same as being mad? Not sure.
It Can Happen Here creates more questions than it answers. And that's a good thing. (January 31 at Cinecyle)