| 22 min 41 sec
Original English version, French subtitles
Awards and Festivals
ONE AND TWO LINERS
A National Film Board of Canada Production
Able to navigate by reading the Earth’s magnetic field, fiercely loyal to flock and family, at home on land, air and water, geese straddle the territory between ancient instincts and the contemporary world.
Director Karsten Wall’s exquisitely observed film essay Modern Goose embeds in the daily life of these iconic animals. In flipping the usual nature-film perspective to centre another form of consciousness, something radical begins to happen. The concrete sprawl of parking lots, drive-thru restaurants and busy highways transforms from normalized to something extremely unsettling. It isn’t the geese who are the interlopers here, but people who have forced the birds into the margins, disrupting age-old patterns.
Combining beauty, humour and profound empathy, Modern Goose reveals how the mysteries of the natural world persist in the face of continual urbanization. From the s-curve of their elegant black necks to the tips of their dinosaur-clawed toes, geese are tough, resourceful survivors, not only adapting but thriving. They wing their way forth, creating a living calligraphy against the evening sky, offering a deeper message of continuity and connection. The will and determination of wild creatures to find their way home endures.
A WORD FROM THE DIRECTOR: KARSTEN WALL
Director Karsten Wall’s exquisitely observed film essay flips the usual nature-film perspective to offer a deeper message of continuity and connection.
Able to navigate by reading the Earth’s magnetic field, at home on land, air and water, geese straddle the territory between ancient instincts and the contemporary world. Combining beauty, humour and profound empathy, director Karsten Wall’s exquisitely observed film essay embeds in the daily life of these iconic animals to reveal a deeper message of continuity and connection.
The idea for Modern Goose came about as a way to rethink the standard nature documentary format. As an editor who often works in this genre, I have always had the desire to create a more contemplative and authentic documentary about a wild animal’s struggle for survival. With Modern Goose, I tried my best to remove my human perspective from the story and see the world through the eyes of an urban Canada goose.
I chose Canada geese as the subject for this film because of the interesting place they occupy in the minds of Canadians. Many geese have adapted to city life but still retain their migratory instincts. For Canadians, Canada geese can be both an urban pest and a majestic creature that symbolizes the changes in season. In many ways this contradictory relationship mirrors humanity’s connection to the wider natural world: we idolize and cherish nature, but obsessively try to control it to the point of destruction.
By taking a step back and allowing the geese to tell this story, a different style of nature film began to take shape. From their perspective, the city landscape morphs into something strange and unfamiliar, and the evolutionary instincts that guide them take on a spiritual or supernatural quality. Making the film in this way was an experimental process that, at some points, risked breaking the rules of traditional documentary filmmaking. But I hope the viewing experience is uniquely effective and brings about a deeper sense of empathy and awareness of the natural world trapped within our cities.
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This film has a digital reenactment of a goose being struck by a car.
No animals were harmed as a result of this production.
Written and Directed by
Oana Suteu Khintirian
Directors of Photography
Trevor Gill (Fall Migration)
Original music by
Written by Colin Stetson
Performed by Colin Stetson
Published by Third Side Music
Courtesy of Colin Stetson
Magnetic Field Visual Effects
Studio Operations Manager
Senior Production Coordinator
City of Winnipeg
Oak Hammock Marsh
Filmed in and around Winnipeg, Canada on Treaty 1 territory, the original ancestral homelands of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene Peoples, and homeland of the Métis Nation.
A production of the National Film Board of Canada North West Studio
© 2022 National Film Board of Canada
About the NFB
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