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