Directed by Darlene Naponse, Stellar is a whimsical love story between She (Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) and He (Braeden Clarke), a young couple who meet in an underground bar in Northern Ontario. As the world bears witness to massive wildfires, flooding and destruction, the two remain safe within the confines of the tavern walls. Even so, while the two explore the potential of a future together, they must also deal with the horrors of the past as they unfurl around them.
With a poetic eye, Stellar is a beautiful piece which explores the trauma of the Indigenous population. Set entirely within the walls of one small bar, Stellar’s narrative feels as though it wants to unravel the grand narrative of history. By delving into conversations surrounding white privilege, education inequity, violence and even residential schools, the film highlights the damage that has been done to the First Nations people over the centuries.
Among the more noteworthy aspects of the film are its visuals. Taking pages out of Terrence Malick and Aronofsky, Stellar uses its visuals to explore complex metaphors to unfold the narrative questions of the indigenous population. Featuring immersive visuals that blur the narrative lines, the film makes connections between the soul of the indigenous population and the natural world. Naponse uses this unique form of storytelling to depict the ebb and flow of time, giving the story a sense of uprising and inevitability.
While the film’s slow pacing and lyrical visuals will undoubtedly frustrate some viewers, Stellar is a film that will demand a response. The truth of the matter is that this is a film with something to say and requires an attentive ear (and eye). However, for those who are willing to humble themselves and allow themselves to be absorbed within it, there’s no doubt that Stellar will take them on a journey that they will not forget.a
Stellar is now playing at TIFF ’22. For screening information, click here.