Hot Docs, North America's biggest documentary film festival, kicks off its 2011 run on April 28 in Toronto. Jam-packed with documentaries running through May 8, Moviefone Canada will be there from start to finish, offering up looks at some of the festival's noted films.
You've probably heard of, known, or are one of those people who take five months of the year to go tree-planting. It's one of those jobs that works its employees hard for a short amount of time. The reward is decent pay and the balance of the year to rest your weary bones.
Take a tree-planting career, put it on steroids and you have the subject of the surprisingly satisfying 'The Lumberfros.' Brush-cutting requires that you be able to wield an industrial-sized weed-whacker, endure staggering heat and fight off swarms of nasty bugs. Many attempt the gig with hopes of big money made in the romantic outdoors, and most leave with their tails between their legs.
'The Lumberfros' is the story of the men who can do the job. Deep in the Northern Quebec boreal forest, growth of profitable trees can be enhanced when forestry workers cut down the small stuff surrounding the largest specimens. It's kind of like weeding a giant garden. Here in nature's grandeur you can pull in $200, $300, or even $600 a day.
Canadian forestry has attracted gritty workers for over a century. The work is a way to escape the scourge of minimum wage, but only if you are willing to grind and toil at the job, and leave your family behind. Many hardened Quebecois still work this land, but an increasing immigrant presence is where this story gets traction.
Mamadou comes from Africa and is arguably the most memorable character in 'The Lumberfros.' His big laugh, powerful body and iron will prove to be valuable tools in these conditions. While rhyming off facts about Alexander the Great, he cuts down dozens of trees with his noisy saw.
Antonie is next. This Romanian's heartbreaking story tells the tale of a man with nothing left to lose. Fleeing a post-Communist mess, he smuggles his way into Canada with the hope of a new start. His punchy attitude and good sense of humor make him an endearing character and a veteran of the craft.
Finally, Gérard represents the native Quebecers who populate the no-frills forestry camps. Not sure if his age, weight and health would allow him to succeed in the craggy conditions, he has found his path as a modern day Paul Bunyan.
Maybe it's the melancholic endurance of the characters, the charm of outdoorsmanship, or simply knowing that working with your hands in the Canadian woods is a refuge of profit; whatever the reason, 'The Lumberfros' is a wonderful doc that shouldn't be missed.
Sunday May 1, 9:30PM - The ROM Theatre
Tuesday May 3, 1:30PM - The ROM Theatre
For complete schedule and movie listings, visit the Hot Docs website.