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What to know: Powerful and uplifting story about a young girl overcoming the death of her mother and the flaws of her father to succeed in the world.
JULIANA & THE MEDICINE FISH is in the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - it may not be a regular, endorsed title
Recommended age 13-18
87 minutes
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This is a powerful story of how a young girl overcomes the death of her mother and the flaws of her father to succeed in the world. This makes it an uplifting story as you follow the tragedies that befall her and how she overcomes them. The storyline addresses the girl's relationship issues with her father and a situation with their family business and home being threatened with by foreclosure. The question is, can a fishing competition solve all their problems? I like how spiritual beliefs intertwining nature and man's progress are woven throughout the film. I like how the bond between father and daughter grows stronger as the storyline progresses. Dealing of a death in the family death is also handled well. I did find the film a little longer than I would have liked. The camera work is really well done, particularly the images on the water and under the water. The wider panorama by the lake and surrounding country show nature at its best. The background music is subtle and blended well with the scenes. The sad singing during the desperate search for the mother and acknowledging her passing is hauntingly appropriate. The flash backs for the girl are well executed, especially the sudden appearance of her mother lying in the water. It came across as how a person experiences grief for a loved ones. The main child character is really believable. Her acting is both engaging and believable throughout the film. The father is also played well, as the portrayal of a flawed person. The message of this film is that you can overcome adversity with courage, hard work and good friends. Also, people can change for the better given a chance by loved ones who believe in them. There is also a message about returning the big fish to the lake because it's the right thing to do and is done in lieu of winning the competition. While in context of the film and its setting, viewers should be aware the film contains the following. 1) some very mild profanity; 2) several scenes where adults smoke cigars or discuss acceptance of tobacco; 3) use of hip flash for drinking alcohol by an adult; 4) some gambling; 5) use of matches and lighting a smoking object by a child; 6) unsupervised use of boats by a child; 7) unsupervised swimming in a lake by a child. The film reminded me that nature in this part of the world is very interesting and diverse. It certainly made me want to search out the area and experience its grandeur. I particularly enjoyed the Native perspective the film portrays and recommend it for KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, especially those that value Native stories. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 13 to 18, plus adults. Reviewed by Richard L, KIDS FIRST! Juror
After the sudden death of her mother, twelve year-old Juliana (Emma Tremblay) is forced to repair an awkward relationship with her father as well as deal with the impending bankruptcy of the family business: a fishing lodge on majestic Lake of the Woods. In a last-ditch attempt to save the lodge, Dad (Adam Beach), organizes a high-stakes fishing derby. Juliana is powerless to help until she finds a world record Musky lurking in the waters around the lodge. Juliana devises a plan to catch the beast and save the family business. When Juliana seeks the counsel of an old Native Ojibway guide she learns that this particular Musky is an ancient 'medicine fish' with a spirit-essence crucial to the survival of the lake, and all other Muskies. Will she capture the mythic beast and save the lodge? Or will she allow the Musky to live and sacrifice her home? What medicine does this Magical Musky hold?
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