AS LONG AS THE RIVERS FLOW (1991)
As Long As The Rivers Flow is a series of five one-hour documentary films. They recount an epic story. The struggle of indigenous peoples to gain control of their destiny in a place that came to be called Canada.
The series was conceived in 1989 by then CBC Radio executive producer James Cullingham who created Tamarack Productions to produce As Long as the Rivers Flow independently. He was soon joined by filmmaker Peter Raymont who became series producer along with Cullingham. Raymont was also the series’ executive producer. Together the two assembled an unprecedented filmmaking team and raised $2 million in production financing.
The series was the first nation-wide collaboration of its kind: Métis filmmakers Gil Cardinal and Loretta Todd and Inuk director David Poisey joined fellow directors Hugh Brody, William Hansen and Boyce Richardson in making the series. Their films from the series have now been screened on five continents and have won over twenty international awards.
The series was conceived to tell gritty, practical stories of self-determination from across Canada. The films are listed below in order of their 1991 initial broadcast in French on TV5 and in English on a consortium of provincial and territorial broadcasters led by TVOntario. Almost twenty years later, As Long As The Rivers Flow is still actively distributed. It remains a milestone in collaborative filmmaking about history, politics and human rights in Canada.
Time Immemorial - directed by Hugh Brody
Tikinagan - directed by Gil Cardinal
The Learning Path - directed by Loretta Todd
Starting Fire With Gunpowder - directed by David Poisey and William Hansen
Flooding Job's Garden- directed by Boyce Richardson
"As Long As The Rivers Flow, spawned in the blood and intellect of native and non-native Canadians against absurd odds, is a benchmark in Canadian documentary filmmaking."
- Greg Quill, The Toronto Star, 1991
"As Long As The Rivers Flow takes a compelling, disturbing and often inspiring look at the Native experience from the pre-Confederation days to the current post-Oka period. Using real people and true stories, the series breaks down cultural barriers and debunks false myths to help explain the complex issue of Native self-determination." - Erica Smiskek, Saskatoon Star-Phoenix, Sept. 12, 1991
"I'm suggesting you watch, not just because the programs are good television, or because they reveal the destructive blindness of federal and provincial governments’ aboriginal policies, but because they raise serious questions about the moral and ethical foundations on which the country was built,… Canadians owe it to themselves to take these programs seriously." - Peter Trueman, 1991
"This is no Dances With Wolves. Instead, the entire series takes a frank, unglamorous look at our Native peopleï¿½s struggle for self-determination, for self-respect, and for the freedom that most of us perceive as our birthright." - Rick Forchuk, The Ottawa Sun, 1991
"As Long As The Rivers Flow is the creation of a rather eccentric, rather brilliant radio producer named James Cullingham, whose time at the likes of As It Happens was marked by both wild experiment and peer criticism. For this series, Cullingham went out on his own, raised $2 million, sought out five directors he believed would have interesting stories to tell and simply let them have their heads. The results are not only worth his investment but viewers as well." - Roy MacGregor, The Ottawa Citizen, September 12, 1991
Conceived by: James Cullingham
Series Producers: James Cullingham and Peter Raymont
Executive Producer; Peter Raymont
Production Manager: Emily C. Larimer
Television Host: Tantoo Cardinal
Series Theme Composer: John Kim Bell
Produced with support of:
The National Film Board of Canada; Telefilm Canada; Ontario Media Development Corporation; TV5; TVOntario;
The Canadian Studies Secretariat of the Secretary of State, Canada; Teck Corporation.
Distribution: Icarus Films, New York.