“…marks the start of a change that has been a long-time coming.”
Indigenous representation in media is something that started off very problematic and still has quite a long way to go. Granted there have been efforts to expedite the process, especially in Canada, with government funding allowing Indigenous filmmakers to tell their stories. Before Tomorrow is one of these stories. Created by the Isuma Productions, an Inuit film studio in Canada, Before Tomorrow is technically the third film in a trilogy; the common theme being preservation of stories. These movies aren’t necessarily movies in the traditional sense, but act as unfiltered memories that will outlive any person on earth. Unfortunately this, when viewed through the lens of an audience, makes for a pretty boring experience.
Before Tomorrow is a story about a boy and his grandmother who, after discovering illness spread by strangers, are left to fend for themselves in the harsh Canadian arctic. But that’s not how the movie starts out. What we see early on in the film is Inuit people living. We see them fishing, eating, laughing, talking; and these moments are the heart of Before Tomorrow. They act as a form of preservation, allowing for these Inuit people to live on forever through the medium of film.
It is for this reason that Before Tomorrow at times feels more like a documentary, despite the story being fictionalized. The characters may not be real but the people are, and they try and make the experience as accurate as possible for the audience. This in-turn transforms Before Tomorrow into this pseudo-documentary where we see people who are not acting as themselves but they are acting in such a way that it is educational as well as story-serving.
When the movie transitions from these almost expository and definitely contextual scenes and transitions to its ‘main event’ (for lack of a better term), things start to fall apart for me. When attempting to create a professional-feeling film, all of the flaws in Before Tomorrow float to the surface. You start to see the weak performances, the bizarre direction, the editing that sticks out like a sore thumb. Granted these problems aren’t constant, but they are there and they are difficult to ignore. The prevailing feeling that I got throughout Before Tomorrow was that it was an amateur film; and it was.
That’s what we can’t forget. If you dislike Before Tomorrow you have to realize that it was a film made with the best of intentions to the best of their ability. It’s absolutely not the fault of the filmmakers that they don’t have the funding for these big-budget Hollywood epics; and trust me: if Before Tomorrow had a decent budget it could have been phenomenal. We have to understand that it is our fault. Nobody is interested in these movies, and therefore nobody is willing to fund them. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy; a prophecy that the people behind Isuma Productions was trying to break.
The brilliant potential shines through in Before Tomorrow on many occasions. The wonderful Canadian scenery not only creates a beautiful backdrop for this story but also immerses you in what you are seeing on screen. Those candid moments that I mentioned before exist as these beautiful windows into these communities, allowing for the rest of the world to live with them if only for 90 minutes. And most importantly the cast and crew being almost entirely Inuit is not something to be overlooked.
Overall Before Tomorrow was not really my cup of tea. I found the story fairly boring and the amateur nature of the film started to wear on me after a while. But it doesn’t matter what I say. It doesn’t matter if I didn’t like the movie because it marks the start of a change that has been a long-time coming. So don’t take my word for it; go out and watch Before Tomorrow. Hell, watch any Inuit or Indigenous film you can get your hands on. I know I will.
I give Before Tomorrow a C