One of our favourite docs of the year, The National Parks Project took 13 Canadian directors and shipped them off to National Parks across the country, armed with film crews and indie musicians, and asked them to capture the unique and beautiful landscapes in short films. Together, they provide an eloquent love letter to Canada’s natural wilderness. One of the directors, French-Canadian Louise Archambault, was sent to Kluane National Park in the Yukon, and strove to create a film that served as a cinematographic postcard from this ethereal landscape. We talked to her about the challenges, and rewards, of the project, and what Canada means to her. 

Tell us a bit about the filming process-how long were you in the park for?
We were in the park for one week, camping with no electricity, running water, or even communication devices. No one knew what we would find there to film. So with my dreamy weightless idea, we just went on this adventure, all of our senses open to catch the essence of the rugged beauty and the poetry of Kluane.

What were some unique challenges of this project? Some things you enjoyed?
One of the main challenge was to be equipped with minimum gear, a low-fi shoot, with just one week for travelling, scouting, and shooting in such a vast region. We could have filmed for a month, since there’s so much to see and to learn from Kluane!

I just loved the musicians and the crew I was with. Great spirit. Everybody was so creatively and humanly participative. And our trip on the icefield was a unique feeling, a visual and sensorial moment. It gets to you in a profound way. The DP and I arrived very early in the morning, it was hazy because of the forest fires in Alaska, and I felt like I was on another planet, so silent, so different, a pure visual beauty. And the music composed on the icefield just blew me away.

What do you hope people will take away from this film?
I hope the viewers will feel like sort of travelling in another space/time, and measure the immense beauty we have here in Canada. Maybe they’ll see that the wilderness of this Nordic land is more powerful than the human desire to dominate it (and hopefully it’ll stay that way).

Fill in the blank. To me, Canada is…
A vast beautiful country with many natural gems to discover that needs to be preserved from human alterations.

Voices of children seem to be a recurring element in many of the shorts-why do you think that is?
I don’t know. Maybe the filmmakers were unconsciously drawn to them because they symbolize rugged purity, like the nature we filmed, and they also symbolize the future of this land. Or just because they crossed our path and we wanted to share their energy. The children I filmed in Kluane were playing in a native village that is mosly inhabited during the fishing season. We could actually see salmon in the river.