Hope, from first time documentary filmmakers Stuart Reaugh and Thomas Buchan, follows artist Ken Paquette, his partner Winnie Peters and their five boys (ages four through fifteen) as they struggle to cope during a year of wrenching change.
The family lives on the Schkam Native Reserve, across the river from the town of Hope. The town is a transitory place at the junction of three highways. After 18 years together, Ken and Winnie's troubled relationship dissolves when Rick, a tattooed ex-con, moves in and assumes the role of stepfather. Winnie's eldest son Kenny leaves the home. Ken settles in town, where he sells his paintings outside the local pub, earning enough for rent and the occasional trip to McDonalds with his kids. Over the course of four seasons, the family cycles through poverty, addiction, violence and love, but when winter bleeds into spring, a final confrontation sparks irrevocable change.
With painterly attention to the ordinary details of life in an interior town - dark mountains shrouded in mist, rotting abandoned cars amidst the vaulted green spaces of the forest - the film captures two very different senses of time. The permanence of the land set against an explosive human drama that exists for fragile moments, before life and circumstances move on.
The directors lived alongside the family over the course of a year, becoming an intimate part of events. This style of on-the-ground filmmaking provides a startling level of immediacy. The film imposes no external narrative; each family member offers a unique voice, describing their frustration and anger with each other, as well as their love and dreams for a better life. Raw honesty and a deep humanism explode stereotypes, capturing the joy and laughter, as well as the pain of this complex family, in a fully realized portrait of people and place.
Hope, Thomas Buchan & Stuart Reaugh, provided by the National Film Board of Canada