Village at the End of the Road Film Screening with Q&A
Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7-8 p.m.
This is a premiere screening of a just-completed work, five years in the making, a local story with global significance.
Bay de Verde, once a vibrant village of fishermen, today struggles to survive. Reckless over-fishing by international trawlers and the Canadian government’s mismanagement of Newfoundland’s 500-year-old cod fishery led to its collapse in 1992, and with it, the traditional “outport” way of life.
Many were forced to leave, becoming part of a world-wide stream of outmigration from rural places. Others, determined to stay, did so by working away, on lengthy “rotations” in western Canada’s oil sands, at distant hydro-electric projects, or on supply ships and oil rigs in the Atlantic.
“Mobile work” continues as a survival strategy today, while people search for new ways to remain in the places they love: where their history lies, where nature is close by, and where neighbors look out for one another.
Rarely have people living in endangered maritime communities told their stories on screen. What is the root of their fierce attachment to home and place? What future do the residents of Bay de Verde and Newfoundland’s other coastal communities have? Can new developments, such as a different kind of fishery or tourism save them? What is it like to work away? In the 21st century, how do people preserve the best of a good place in the face of dramatic change?
The crisis Newfoundlanders face is far from an isolated one. Most of the world’s rural places are facing decline and stagnation, often due to environmental impacts or outright collapse.
Traditional cultures and valued ways of life are being lost in this vast global outmigration. The filmmakers believe that there is much to be learned from the story of Bay de Verde, and its residents’ determination to hold to their outport life.
George Gmelch, a cultural anthropologist at the University of San Francisco first came to Newfoundland in the early 1970s; he recently returned to join a large multidisciplinary Canadian team studying mobile work – the On the Move Project. Over the past four decades he has done fieldwork among and written extensively about rural and nomadic peoples in Alaska, Barbados, Ireland, and England,
Dennis Lanson has been making documentaries about contemporary work and culture for many years: Phans of Jersey City (Vietnamese refugees), was featured at New Directors/New Films at MOMA, in New York City; Booming (uranium miners in winter in Wyoming) appeared in festivals and on PBS, as did To Hear the Music (organ builders construct and install a tracker instrument at Harvard).
Presented by George Gmelch; Dennis Lanson