“The most shocking thing about the nightmare world in Jeff Barnaby’s eye-opening masterpiece… Is that it’s real.”
Film Title: Rhymes for Young Ghouls
Director: Jeff Barnaby
Principle Cast: Kawennahere Devery Jacobs, Glen Gould, Brandon Oakes, Mark Anthony Krupa, Roseanne Supernault
Length: 88 minutes
Reviewed By: Isabel Cupryn
It’s 1976, and First Nations teen Aila (Kawennahere Devery Jacobs), has been running the family’s drug business ever since her father Joseph (Glen Gould) went to jail. Joseph’s return from prison sparks vicious beatings from Indian Affairs agent Popper (Mark Antony Krupa). After Popper imprisons Aila in an Indian residential school where children are abused and raped, she sets out to exact her revenge.
Jeff Barnaby sought to challenge himself by writing and directing a female-perspective story. In this day and age of few strong and complex roles for women, he has given Canadian cinema one of the most engaging heroines I can think of. Jacobs, in turn, plays unflinchingly tough Aila to a tee. Every aspect of the film is extremely good – acting, cinematography and music, to name a few.
The most shocking thing about the nightmare world in Jeff Barnaby’s eye-opening masterpiece… Is that it’s real. Aila and her revenge plot are fiction, but the abuse of First Nations is fact. Documented cases in the missionary-run residential school system were acknowledged by the Anglican Church of Canada (1993), and the Vatican (2009). While we preach human rights to countries abroad, we need more Jeff Barnabys to open our eyes. We can’t change a past most of us were sheltered from, but we can move forward educated, aware, and with compassion.