'Koneline: Our Land Beautiful', directed by Nettie Wild ('A Place Called Chiapas') is a visually hypnotic portrait of the stunning landscapes of the Tahltan First Nation and one of the last great wildernesses in northern British Columbia.
Not a Western, but a Northern, Nettie Wild’s astonishing non-fiction film transports us to a magnificent land, not as backdrop but as a vivid elemental force that dominates the experience of both the indigenous peoples and the settlers who carve out their lives there.
Without comment Wild watches as a helicopter painstakingly lowers a 16,000 pound transmission tower into place, another notch in the grid girding the landscape. A big-game hunter swims her 17 horses across the unforgiving Stikine. A Tahltan First Nation driller bores deep into the same territory his elders are fighting to protect. And polymath linguist Oscar Denis, who has stood up to major oil companies, is working on his PHD in linguistics and who is doggedly battling to preserve the dying language of his people; indeed, it is the Tahltan word ‘Koneline’ which gives the film its title.
With the rise of fascism rapidly spreading across the Western world, and the very concept of environmentalism becoming an increasingly contentious and divisive point of political debate, Nettie Wild’s film, Winner of the Best Canadian Feature at the 2016 Hot Docs Festival, emerges as a timely and complex elegy to a powerful yet fragile land and the dreamers who move across it.