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Circle of the Sun

(Le Soleil perdu)

Year: 1961
Language: English
Format: 16mm/35mm Colour
Runtime: 30 min
Director: Colin Low
Producer: Tom Daly
Writer: Colin Low
Cinematographer: John Spotton, Dalton Muir
Editor: Tom Daly
Sound: George Croll, Ron Alexander, Kathleen Shannon, Erik Nielsen
Music: Eldon Rathburn
Narration: Stanley Jackson
Production Company: National Film Board of Canada
This award-winning documentary classic from the National Film Board’s Unit B records a gathering of the Blood Indians of Alberta to perform the Sun Dance, a summer celebration that attracts members of the tribe from far beyond the reserve. The film focuses on the experiences of Pete Standing Alone, a young Blood whose life as a transient oil camp worker takes him far from his people, but who always returns for the Sun Dance.

Circle of the Sun captures the significance of the Blood Indians’ affinity with the land and all its creatures, freedom of movement and the strength that flows from pride in First Nations law and customs. It also addresses the predicament of the younger generation – those who have relinquished their ties to their own culture, but have not yet found a firm place in a changing world. Characteristically nostalgic in tone and with a finely elaborated contrapuntal structure, Circle of the Sun – which received a Canadian Film Award for General Information – is also one of the last of the traditional NFB portraits of Canada’s Native peoples.