Literature is great. Film is great. So, in a chocolate and peanut butter like fashion, we’ve created a list of four films that feature the two in some form or fashion.
From novelists to poets, each documentary on this list shines a spotlight on a different celebrated literary figure. These four authors come from a litany of diverse backgrounds, and all have a unique tale to tell. Informative and revealing, these films bring the author to the forefront; telling you the often human story behind your favourite literary works.
Jack Kerouac’s Road – A Franco-American Odyssey
Get on the road and off the beaten path with this first literary documentary. A writer of French-Canadian descent, Jack Kerouac helped define an era. A pioneering member of both the Beat Generation and the counterculture movements of the 1950s and 60s, this introspective film focuses on the writer’s childhood, casting a particular spotlighting on the writer’s Canadian roots. Part drama, this film is interspersed with archival footage and interviews. A must watch for any Kerouac fan.
Jack Kerouac's Road – A Franco-American Odyssey, Herménégilde Chiasson, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
Mordecai Richler: The Writer and His Roots
Our second film on this list turns its literary gaze towards the famous Montreal writer, Mordecai Richler. Digging deep into Richler’s Jewish and Canadian background, this documentary pulls back the curtain on Richler’s past and explores his inner-motivations for writing. A fun, short documentary that features excerpts and readings from the author himself.
Mordecai Richler: The Writer and His Roots, , provided by the National Film Board of Canada
Margaret Atwood: Once in August
When it comes to literary giants, very few writers come close to Margaret Atwood. This documentary follows filmmaker Michael Rubbo in his attempts (and failures) at examining the elusive and celebrated Canadian author. Incisive and funny as the author herself, the film shines with Atwood’s signature wit.
Also, there’s a scene where she puts a paper bag over her head for reasons that make complete sense in context.
Margaret Atwood: Once in August , Michael Rubbo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada
Song of Eskasoni
Eskasoni is the home of famed Mi’kmaq poet, Rita Jone. A space positively brimming with spiritual revival, this documentary grounds itself within the small Cape Breton village, using it as an anchor point to analyze both Jones herself and her cultural community. An important film that illuminates indigenous voices, this documentary explores how the poet’s cultural roots, spirituality and traditions have impacted her writing.
Song of Eskasoni , Brian Guns, provided by the National Film Board of Canada