Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart


Year: 1977
Language: English
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 75 min
Director: Claude Jutra
Producer: Ralph Thomas
Writer: Cam Hubert
Cinematographer: John Seale
Editor: Toni Trow
Sound: Hans Fousek
Music: Jean Cousineau
Cast: Ian Tracey, George Clutesi, Jacques Hubert, Robert Howard
Production Company: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

After setting fire to a school, Peter (Ian Tracey), an emotionally disturbed eleven-year-old boy who never speaks and exhibits self-destructive rages, is placed in a juvenile detention centre. He brawls with the other boys and eventually escapes to the forests of Vancouver Island, where he meets a Native shaman (George Clutesi), or dreamspeaker, and his happy-go-lucky mute friend (Jacques Hubert). The dreamspeaker helps Peter control the terrors that drive him to acts of violence, but his recovery is interrupted when the authorities track him down. Tragedy befalls the dreamspeaker and his friend, and Peter, who regresses after being forced to return to the institution, hangs himself.

One of the earliest and best dramas made for the CBC-TV anthology series For the Record, this beautifully crafted film is also a key addition to the Claude Jutra canon. Jutra’s characteristic themes of lost innocence and romantic anarchism are here given a particularly poetic resonance through the setting, the native characters and the contrast between the alienating world of reason and order and a world where love is the norm in human relationships. It was one of the few television dramas that was made available for screening (from the National Film Board) after its initial telecast, and was the second film in the career of acclaimed cinematographer John Seale. It was also the first script by Anne Cameron (writing as Cam Hubert).

Dreamspeaker won six Canadian Film Awards in the non-feature categories for TV Drama (Ralph L. Thomas), Direction (Jutra), Screenplay (Cam Hubert), Lead Actor (George Clutesi), Supporting Actor (Jacques Hubert) and Music Score (Jean Cousineau).

Related Entries