In mid-September, The Lesser Blessed had its Toronto Film Festival premiere, a sold-out showing. The film features Jennifer Podemski (Salteaux), and Benjamin Bratt (Quechua) as members of the Tlicho First Nation in the Northwest Territories community of Fort Simmer and Kiowa Gordon (Hualapai), famous as a member of the Twilight Saga wolfpack, as Metis.
In the film, Larry, a shy kid (played by newcomer Joel Nathan Evans) is bullied by the local tough guy, Darcy (Adam Butcher), and has a hopeless crush on Juliet Hope (Chloe Rose). Things start looking up for Larry when he befriends new kid Johnny Beck (Gordon), but it can’t last. The film is based on the 1966 novel of the same name, by Richard van Camp.
“I come in and show Larry the way,” Gordon said, describing his character, in an interview with ICTMN earlier this year. Johnny is “a bad boy. Johnny likes to get into scuffles and hook up with chicks. Johnny also likes to eat cheeseburgers and smoke cigarettes. … Johnny is pretty screwed up in the head.”
The movie is described in the TIFF Programming notes as “An affecting study of lost kids trying to find their way to adulthood, The Lesser Blessed is also notable for [director Anita] Doron’s compassionate insight. Her empathy is deepened by her decision to foreground traditional Tlicho storytelling with numerous key moments and observations addressed through folktales and dreams.”
Reviewer Patrick Mullan of Cinemablographer.com generally praised the film, stating that “the crows and wolves to which the film cuts have considerable resonance” while adding that it “feels firmly rooted in realism,” and concluded that it is “an invaluable step forward in terms of onscreen representation needed to aid the healing process.” Mullan did feel, though, that The Lesser Blessed is “a bit heavy in its realization of such weighty subject matter” and that first-time actor Evans was asked “to carry a bit too much of the weight.”
Below is the riveting trailer for the film, which is looking to book more festival dates in the future.