David Curtis’ Sovereign Soil explores the complexity of sustainable food systems in Northern Canada

Sovereign Soil will be available to stream across Canada until July 17

Although theatres across Canada are slowly beginning to reopen, the majority of our media intake in the coming weeks will still occur predominantly online. And if you’re looking for something thought-provoking to watch, while also supporting local indie theatres that haven’t yet reopened, Canadian filmmaker, David Curtis’ Sovereign Soil will be available to stream until at least July 17. 

Over the course of a year, Curtis explores the remarkable relationships between the Boreal forests of Dawson City, Yukon, and both its Indigenous peoples and the settlers that have taken up residence there. 

From a German immigrant producing everything like Brussels sprouts and kale to a young family tapping birch trees for sap, to a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in youth on a self-governing First Nation’s teaching farm, Curtis puts a spotlight on this diverse landscape, and highlights the intricate ways in which they approach community, sustainability, and survival. 

“There are subtleties and nuanced interrelationships that can only be acquired through the observation, experience and wisdom of people who have lived as part of nature’s continuum,” Curtis continues. “If you don’t listen to them, while being fully aware of your environment, it can lead to potentially disastrous results.”

Sovereign Soil also examines the complexity of sustainable food production, the problems it presents, as well as the dangers of carrying on with conventional processes of land use in regards to food.

“Our dependency on the conveniences of modern food production and distribution systems, great though some aspects of these may be, has created a false or precarious sense of security that the fruits of nature are always at hand, there to sustain us year-round,” says Curtis. “ Without huge inputs of energy and resources, both in human labour and technology, that avocado wouldn’t be on the grocery shelf here in the Arctic in the middle of winter. We generally don’t think much of this when consuming the food put before us.”

"We are currently afforded a unique moment in our cultural evolution to critically reflect upon the impacts of our past policies and actions, and to use this to rectify some of the damages we’ve caused," Curtis said in regards to how the pandemic might affect Canadians' approach to food and sustainability. "Will we do this? I can’t help but think that it may be too late, but I’m still willing to try, and Sovereign Soil is one way in which I hope I can realize positive change in my culture towards mending our social contract with the environment and the land."

Sovereign Soil will be available to stream until at least July 17 in select markets. Tickets can be purchased online, and a portion of the proceeds will be reallocated to the local indie cinema of your choice.