Canada’s national parks have an issue with grizzled action man Liam Neeson’s new film. It’s enough of an issue that the service has taken the step of rejecting its filming over “grave concerns” over a key role. The point of issue? An aboriginal mob boss.
The Canadian Press reports that Neeson’s upcoming thriller has been denied permission to shoot at their Rocky Mountains parks. According to location manager Mark Voyce, the presence of a First Nations gang leader alarmed Parks Canada.
“They expressed a real concern that this was not something they would favor,” said Voyce.
The description of the film sounds a bit like a self-referential parody of Liam Neeson tough fella fare.
Action star Liam Neeson is to play an honest snowplow driver whose son is murdered by a local drug kingpin. He then seeks to dismantle the cartel, but his efforts spark a turf war involving a First Nations gang boss, played by First Nations actor, musician and Order of Canada member Tom Jackson.
“They phoned and asked, ‘Is the leader of the rival gang in this picture First Nations?’ We said yes. That became an obvious last nail in the coffin for us,” explained Joyce of the conversation that signaled the end of their shoot plans. “They didn’t want to offend anybody. They (said they) would get back to us, but they had grave concerns over subject matter. They told us that in almost exactly those words.”
Tom Jackson, the aforementioned multihyphenate playing the gang leader in the film, has come to the movie’s defense. He stresses he takes the presentation of First Nations people seriously and Hard Powder is not showing cultural disrespect.
“As a consultant to this production, I have taken a strong stance to ensure that the humility and integrity of First Nation roles do not cross the line of disrespect to my culture. I don’t feel my culture is insulted even slightly by the script,” offered Jackson in a statement. “Hard Powder will be made regardless. The question is whether we deprive our own, or do we harvest for our own?”
It’s a subject worth unpacking. The Canadian government has a bleak history of doing things they claim is in the best interest of First Nations people. It’s also understandable (from a PR standpoint) why a government organization would be extremely cautious about its affiliation with portrayal of aboriginal people.
Who knew a Neeson movie about “an honest snowplow driver” caught up in a turf war would spawn so many questions?
(Via CBC News)