The Children of Fogo Island

The Children of Fogo Island

| 17 min

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This short film from Colin Low presents the problems faced by the people of Fogo Island, Newfoundland and what keeps them committed to the land. Witness some of the magic of the island, as seen through the eyes of children, and understand why its inhabitants cling to its shores.

The Children of Fogo Island is a unique entry in Colin Low's Fogo series. Unlike the other films completed as part of island-wide Fogo project, The Children of Fogo Island stands alone as a poetic document of the island's youngest generation. Surprisingly, Colin Low once described it as "the most useful film" in the Fogo process.

Here's how he explained it in an interview with contributors Michael Baker and Chris Meir in 2002: "Everywhere we went, the kids would gather. They would stand beside the camera and watch, and then they would get bored, and then they would start to play. And so I pulled [cameraman] Bob Humble to the side and said ‘Look, we're doing a lot of boring stuff. None of these kids are boring. Every time you get a chance, turn the camera around and film the kids.' And I said, ‘You can do as much of it as you want. I will arrange for some kids to do things, but mainly you just shoot them.' And so he did. When we began editing the film I had only one condition: any kid that appeared [in the raw footage] had to appear in the film. I didn't want to leave a kid out. I wanted all the kids of Fogo Island in this film, and it was going to be long and maybe boring. I had arranged to get a local group – it was a rock ‘n' roll group called the Philadelphia Cream Cheese – to gather for a recording. They were quite marvellous in putting together half a dozen songs. And then we took that particular film back to Fogo Island and showed it.

"Every time we'd go to a village, the first thing we showed was The Children of Fogo Island, and there were kids from all over the island appearing in the film. The energy of the kids made people think of their own childhood and what they loved about their own childhood: the freedom about it; the endless play; copying their dads on the boats. The other thing that struck people is the melancholy that you can see on Fogo Island, but we had an enormous demand for [the film.]"

Thomas Waugh, Ezra Winton, Michael Baker
From the playlist: Challenge for Change

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The Children of Fogo Island, Colin Low, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • director
    Colin Low
  • producer
    John Kemeny
  • photography
    Robert Humble
  • editing
    Dennis Sawyer
  • music
    Wayne Brace
    Sandy Morris
    Derek Pelley
    Bryan Hennessy
    Noel Dinn

  • MarleneFul

    so beautiful everything they played with was home made it must of been an amazing childhood.

    MarleneFul, 26 Aug 2018
  • adrianhouse

    Great film. I think there were more women and girls than above commenter noticed (eg. girls and women rowing, flying kites), albeit it was mostly men. What struck me was how wonderfully creative and active the children are in this pre-computer era. The seaplane was amazing.

    adrianhouse, 17 Nov 2015
  • Allie

    This is a wonderful piece, but as I watch it I can fully undersatnd how women were edited out of history. A quick image of a woman making ifsh in the last seconds and a brief mage of gal on the wharf. It made me sad. Women held the community together, created so much, but generally in our history they are missing.

    Allie, 8 Aug 2012
  • goldenoneliam

    I grew up in the 1960's and my mother was from Joe Batt's Arm. We used to visit my grandparents and Mom's sisters, brothers and my cousin's the re every summer. Watch the children brings back a lot of memories for me of that time and place as I was about the same age as the majority of the children in this video. My sister brother and I grew up in New Brunswick. It is wonderful to have this snapshot of time.

    goldenoneliam, 12 Jun 2010

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