Stellar is not the typical film that one might find taking place at a bar as the world unravels right outside the windows.
In many ways, Stellar is a contemplative film that leads audiences to think about what’s happening with nature. Unfortunately, this film will not be for everyone. Weirdly, all of the chaos happening outside the dive bar has no immediate impact on the building itself. I mean, the bartender (Rossif Sutherland) has a panic attack but that’s about it. Overall, it’s a very minimal cast at a single location.
There’s not much dialogue at first, aside from She (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) ordering a drink. Things are otherwise normal outside until she accidentally touches He (Braeden Clarke). Next thing you know, there’s a meteorite outside but inside, it’s conversation as normal. It’s not a disaster movie in the classic sense of the word. Again, it’s very contemplative in nature. It’s not easy to describe what’s happening inside as realities converge–this is more of an indie art film. In writing the script, which is also based on a short story written by the filmmaker, Darlene Naponse draws upon historical research. This particular area of Canada had been hit by a meteorite millions of years earlier.
This film is also an Indigenous love story and we don’t see many of these on the big screen. It’s only in recent years where I feel that we’re starting to see more Indigenous-focused series on TV like Rutherford Falls and Reservation Dogs. I think streaming is definitely helping on this front because it opens up more opportunities that haven’t been there before. Broadcast depends on ratings and if the viewers aren’t there, they won’t continue on the network. Some streamers release their numbers while others don’t. Maybe we’ll get other stories on the big screen in the years to come? Time will certainly tell. But I digress.
Stellar draws largely on nonverbal communication in telling its story by way of magical realism.
DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Darlene Naponse
CAST: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Braeden Clarke, K.C. Collins, and R.H. Thomson, with Rossif Sutherland and Tina Keeper with Billy Merasty
Stellar holds its world premiere during the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival in the Contemporary World Cinema program. Grade: 3/5
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