BY RYAN MACKETT
North of Superior Film Association’s (NOSFA) 24th annual Northwest Film Fest kicked off on Thursday with prelude screenings of Moonlight and Queen of Katwe.
I had quite the selection of films to choose from on Sunday as the lineup for the first full day of the festival included some incredible titles. Ultimately, NOSFA director (and fellow writer) Michael Sobota recommended the film Hello Destroyer, so I made my way to Silver City for the 10 a.m. screening. I am very glad to have listened to Michael, as his recommendation paid off.
The film tells the story of up-and-coming rookie hockey player Tyson Burr (played extremely well by Jared Abrahamson) as he deals with the consequences of his on-ice actions, and how those actions affect his everyday life. This might sound like the premise of a hockey movie, but Hello Destroyer is not a hockey film. It is however a distinctly Canadian film that shows a side to “Canada’s Game” that is often not discussed, or at least addressed as prominently as other aspects of the game.
The film marks Canadian director Kevan Funk’s directorial debut. He also wrote the film. Funk kept the camera extremely tight on the faces of his actors. Coupled with the dimly lit scenes, this created a claustrophobic and uncomfortably intimate atmosphere. Sparse dialogue, little music and a focus on tension only adds to the unrelenting slow-burn nature of this gut-punch of a film.
The role of the enforcer and of violence in hockey should come as no surprise to anyone that watches the sport. Its presence in the game is an endless debate topic on most hockey panels and in the media. There are players in the NHL that have gotten away with everything short of on-ice murder who still play the game freely because of the protection of the league, the coaches and the teams. After all, these players are a commodity and have a level of protection and relative immunity when it comes to carrying out their roles on the ice.
But when a junior-level, B-league player takes his coach’s pep-talk a bit too seriously and perhaps goes a bit too far with his play, what protection is offered to him by the team when his actions cause irreparable harm? The short answer is that the greater good of the team far outweighs that of the individual player when the player isn’t a bankable commodity.
While we as fans can endlessly debate whether or not a penalty or multi-game suspension is deserving for a player who executes a dirty hit, very little discussion is held in regard to the offending player’s state of mind and guilty conscience, especially when they didn’t mean to cause harm. Hello Destroyer dives deep into that discussion and delivers an emotional blow far heavier than an on-ice hit.
Be sure to check out www.nosfa.ca for the full lineup of films screening at the Film Fest next Sunday, April 30. Thanks and praise goes to NOSFA for yet another incredible lineup and incredibly well-executed festival.
Ryan Mackett is an artist and film enthusiast who resides in Thunder Bay. Email questions or comments to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.