Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 102 min
Peter Maguire (Ron Lea) is a white activist lawyer helping a native community in Northern Ontario defend its land against the clear-cutting practices of a local lumber company. When the court case is defeated, Peter has to contend with his own inadequacies and frustrations. Invited to participate in a sweat lodge ceremony (the first authentic ceremony to appear in a feature film), Peter is forced to confront his anger, which manifests itself in the form of visions of revenge against Bud Ricketts (Michael Hogan), the villainous paper mill manager.
Peter then meets Arthur (Graham Greene), a mysterious Native renegade who seems to be psychically in tune with Peter’s darkest desires. Arthur kidnaps Peter and Bud, dragging them into the bush – and into Peter’s worst nightmare. As Arthur proceeds to torture Bud in an allegorical fashion, mimicking what loggers do to the forest, Peter must abandon his most cherished ideals in order to face the darker aspects of his own self.
Richard Bugajski’s first English-language feature film was the much-anticipated follow-up to his acclaimed Interrogation (1982). Based on M.T. Kelly’s award-winning novel "A Dream Like Mine," Clearcut is a powerful and unsettling film that explores the power politics of Western liberalism. Set in Canada’s North (François Protat’s camera captures its awesome grandeur like never before), Clearcut proposes that liberal intolerance – given the accelerating destruction of the planet – isn’t necessarily the solution but, rather, part of the problem.
Channelling the rage experienced when jobs and profits come before the survival of Native culture and the environment, Clearcut attacks the smug liberal pieties of many movies about racial issues by daring to suggest that sometimes action – violent action – speaks far more eloquently than words. Despite rumours of extreme differences on the set between Bugajski and his actors, Graham Greene delivers an extraordinary performance that evokes primal urges and cultural integrity. Clearcut was released in Canada and major American markets and received largely positive reviews.