My Prairie premiere
Chelsea McMullen’s documentary about Calgary native Rae Spoon to premiere at the Globe
For many, the idea of “home” is a safe place – a place of comfort. For Rae Spoon, however, that meaning is much more complex. This is the the focus of Chelsea McMullen’s National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentary, My Prairie Home, and it will soon be getting its Calgary premiere.
McMullen is a Genie-nominated filmmaker, whose work has premiered throughout the film festival circuit, with notable premieres at both the Toronto International Film Festival and the New York Photography Festival. For My Prairie Home, she collaborated with the NFB, an Canadian organization that creates documentaries about social issues, amateur animation, and interactive multimedia.
Spoon – who spoke and performed on campus last February as a part of Pride Week – is a transgender musician and performer who grew up Calgary, but is now based out of Montreal. Spoon, who prefers to use the gender-neutral third-person pronouns “they” and “their”, was born into an extremely religious family, and as a result, turned to music early on as a means to both escape and “[build] a world in which they could safely live”.
Their latest album of the same name “explores the meaning of home when it is no longer a place to return to” – something reflected in the documentary. Though originally a country artist, this album has much more experimentation from Spoon, bringing together elements of a wide range of genres – from Spoon’s earliest gospel and folk influences to indie-rock and grunge.
In the documentary My Prairie Home, produced by Lea Marin, McMullen follows Spoon throughout a tour of the prairies. Backed by the soundtrack of Spoon’s album, the “documentary-musical” blends together performance clips and interviews set against the sights and sounds of Canada’s vast prairies. It tells the story of Spoon’s religious upbringing, self-discovery of sexual orientation and gender identity, and is a heartfelt “queer and musical coming of age”.
“People always ask me why I come back to the prairies so much,” said Spoon in a clip from the trailer for the film. “It can be really awkward for me, but there is a shared history that’s just as much mine as anyone else.”
Currently, Spoon is touring across Canada, and the documentary has already premiered in several cities across the country. The film will be premiering in Calgary on Nov. 22 at 7 p.m. at the Globe Theatre as a part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival’s CUFF Docs documentary series, and will be followed by a weeklong run of screenings.