The 87-minute theatrical version of Winds of Heaven is now for sale in DVD format.

Personal and Home Inquiries: To order a DVD from White Pine Pictures’ online store click this hot link: Order Winds of Heaven

Library and Educational Inquiries: To order from our educational distributor click on this hot link:  McNabb Connolly


Public Screenings – Winds of Heaven

There are no public screenings scheduled.

Since its premiere in 2010, Winds of Heaven has had public screenings in Victoria, Vancouver, Haida Gwaii, Whitehorse, Kamloops, Coqutilam, Smithers, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Sarnia, Waterloo, Toronto, Port Hope, Ottawa, Kingston, North Bay, Collingwood, Renfrew, Montreal, Wakefield, Wolfville,  Antigonish, Sackville, Fredericton, Halifax, St. John’s and Corner Brook.

It was invited to the following festivals – Vancouver International Film Festival, Festival International du Film sur L’Art, the Reel Artists Film Festival, Available Light Film Festival, Doc North Film Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival and the Minneapolis International Film Festival.

It has been seen in the following art galleries and museums – National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery Greater Victoria, Kamloops Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Alberta, University of Alberta Museums, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Art Gallery Windsor, McMichael Canadian Art Gallery, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Glenbow Museum, Agnes Etherington Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Dulwich Picture Gallaery (London, UK).

It has appeared on Bravo! and TV Ontario.

John Walker was awarded the Canadian Society of Cinematographers Award: Best Documentary Photography  for his extraordinary images in Winds of Heaven. (April 2011)

Georgia Straight Janet Smith, April 20, 2011

Ambitious, impressionistic, and endowed with a stunning wealth of archival imagery, Winds of Heaven stands as the definitive, critical film portrait of Emily Carr. That is not to say it is perfect, just as it reveals its subject to be flawed and full of contradictions.

Ottawa director Michael Ostroff creates an exhaustive biography of Carr, often told through her diary’s words, and intermixes it with the history of the Northwest Coast First Nations she was so taken with.

The film begins with a picture of a young woman in Victoria, B.C., who is more comfortable in the wild terrain of Long Beach than the strict confines of corseted, turn-of-the-19th-century society. It traces her life, through her meetings with the Group of Seven to her unthinkable trips up the Skeena River and to Paris. Much later comes her 15-year retreat from painting and her first exhibition at the National Gallery, with its unintentionally ironic mix of her paintings with monuments stolen from Native lands. Through it all we see remarkable photos and footage of the slow engulfment of Native culture, from old film of gigantic cedars being felled in a pristine B.C. forest to shots of the last jutting totems standing in a Haida village.

… the insights from experts … gives a well-shaded, and unpredictable, portrait of Carr’s place in the art world and views on aboriginals. The film, for all its intricate and fascinating details of Carr’s early life, also ends abruptly, before her death. But perhaps that’s as it should be, to leave us amid those winds of heaven, the wild, swirling forests she rendered with such late-found freedom, and with Carr in the place she seems to be happiest: at her primitive caravan in the woods.

After gaining much praise on the film-festival circuit, Michael Ostroff’s doc finally arrives on TV. It is far from the standard TV bio of an important art figure, being visually sumptuous and containing much of Carr’s own words. In fact Carr’s life is mostly told through the artist’s own descriptions of travels and meetings and work, spoken by actor Diane D’Aquila. There is also an eye-popping array of archival photos and films which will help dispel the school-text picture of Carr that many people have.

Of course we learn about how Carr struggled hard to be accepted at a time when few women painted, and how she saved to travel to Paris to study. The doc also smartly tackles the many-layered issues that arise from Carr’s appreciation of native culture and her own artistic approach to it, including the issue of “appropriation” of native culture.

In the main, this is an inspiring story of an artist who struggled, who fought hard not to give in to dismay and disappointment. Given that Carr’s work has caused fierce debate, the doc is a useful and lovely reminder about the importance of stepping away from the politics of culture and just looking at the art.

John Doyle,  Globe and Mail, 29 January 2011

… This is a substantial film, and a beautiful one at times. John Walker’s cinematography flows like acrylic paint across canvas. Edmund Eagan’s score brings its own ideas to the overall narrative. At one point we hear a sweet “ting” from the soundtrack as the camera zooms in on a triangle in a child’s hands. Yet Winds of Heaven succeeds more as social history than critical biography.

In Ostroff’s directorial view, Carr’s times overwhelmed the artist. She hated Victoria’s Victorian stuffiness. London and “its perpetual undertone of humanity” made her ill. Even her relationship to the world she did care for — the lives and culture of First Nations people — was uncertain and perhaps even misguided.

“Among the Canadian elite of the time there was the need to create a country, not a real estate deal,” Ostroff explained in a recent phone conversation. The key was to assimilate the First Nations people into Eurocentric Canadian culture. “And there was Carr cheering on the need to assimilate,” says the director. “She accepted the proposition that the native people were on the edge of extinction.”

Unwittingly, Carr became part of the First Nations problem — a view still held by a few contemporary First Nations artists — not its solution. Unwittingly? Maybe not. In her own writing Carr reduced First Nations speech into some sort of pidgin Chinese with people saying “hully-up” and “toulist” for tourist.

Winds of Heaven, with Diane D’Aquila narrating excerpts from Carr’s autobiography, is as much a history of early 20th century British Columbia race relations. Successive B.C. governments wanted quaint Haida dancers out there in drum-thumping action to beguile trinket-buying tourists. Yet the same officials forbade them to attend a potlatch ceremony where leaders were chosen.

The most indelible visual moments in Winds of Heaven come with the archival footage Ostroff has deftly woven through his narrative, not the some 120 or so Carr paintings given a brief glimpse now and then.

Positive reaction to his 2004 art-based documentary, Pegi Nicol: Something Dancing About Her led Ostroff’s to consider Emily Carr. Yet his feeling that he’s not an art insider — “I don’t know what post-modernism is,” he told me — likely led him to incorporate snippets of packaged art insight from curator Laurel Smith Wilson, critic Marcia Crosby and art historians Susan Crean and Gerta Moray.

Unfortunately, their insights seem to have been clipped from another, much duller, Emily Carr biography where what ended up on canvas mattered more than how it ended up there.

Peter Goddard,  Toronto Star, 29 January 2011

“Winds of Heaven is a must-see, possibly one of the best films ever made about our province, these forests, and our history as newcomers. It’s the story of Emily Carr and what inspired her: the love of the people, the places, and the love of art. Hats off to everyone involved in this project; it is, for us, a very important story well-told, and surely for everyone, a sight to behold.” Alan Franey, Director, Vancouver International Film Festival.

Fine script does justice to Emily Carr
By Robert Amos, Special to Times Colonist October 13, 2010

It’s magic! Michael Ostroff’s new feature film Winds of Heaven weaves a living, breathing evocation of Emily Carr from a basket of disparate elements. Here is Carr for the 21st century, a woman of complexity. And you might be pleased to hear that Ostroff evokes her without using an actress to dress up like the feisty lady on the edge of nowhere.

Personally, I hate docudramas, and I bridle at any of the well-meaning women who have tried to interpret “our Emily.” Ostroff agrees, it seems, and approaches Carr by different routes. In a voice-over, the superb actress Diane D’Aquila reads the words of Carr, and she does a convincing job of delivering a carefully chosen script.

Those people who do appear briefly in the film are our contemporaries. Susan Crean is the author of The Laughing One: A Journey to Emily Carr; Gerta Moray is the author of Unsettling Encounters: First Nations Imagery in the Art of Emily Carr; and Marcia Crosby is a well-published Haida/Tsimshian art historian.

In their essential books, each of these women has given us a fresh understanding of Emily Carr for the new century. Their presence here underscores Ostroff’s progressive and profound understanding of a woman I call Canada’s most important artist.

None of this overshadows the visual feast of the film. Ostroff had access to all the great national collections of Carr’s work, including those in Ottawa and Vancouver, and he presents us with new, up-close camerawork of unparalleled sensitivity. Never have I experienced the colours and the characters of Carr’s paintings so intensely. Mercifully, this film avoids the swoopy panning that lesser cinematographers usually revert to.

The paintings are beautifully complemented by superb on-location footage from the forests of Haida Gwaii and Goldstream. Ostroff also presents Victoria — under a dusting of snow, no less! He takes us to a potlatch, and to the National Gallery, but his most telling effects come from his use of meticulously constructed sets. Some are evocative — the old typewriter on Carr’s desk, clacking out her manuscripts, typographical errors and all. Others are more extensive — her chaotic and cluttered studio upstairs at the House of All Sorts.

Best of all is Ostroff’s faithful reconstruction of the Elephant, Carr’s caravan. A rickety old truck tows it down a dusty road in Goldstream. Later, it is at the centre of her campsite in the forest. The campfire is smouldering and an errant breeze flaps the canvas awning, for all the world as if Miss Carr had just stepped away.

Melding these images together, and taking us back in time, are snippets of archival footage — tree fallers, steam engines and kids at a residential school. These are intercut with photos of Carr, which have been chosen with a delicacy that reveals more depth of character behind her smile than I had noticed before.

To create a film about art, about First Nations issues, ecology and spiritualism — this was a challenge. To tell afresh the story of someone we thought we knew well is even more difficult. Winds of Heaven is a success on all these many levels.