Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


TIFF 2022 Review – Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On

The life, music and activism of Buffy Saint-Marie gets the full documentary treatment anchored by past and present interviews with the iconic Indigenous artist.

Pulling punches is not something that is in the DNA of Buffy Sainte-Marie as she is fearless and has a clear understanding of how the world works; different lines like songs being like snapshots of her life or that the world can be wrong or not quite ready to accept the truth demonstrates her ability to step back from herself.  The songs ‘Universal Solider’ correctly points the finger at the general masses for allowing their elected leaders to go to war because they are the ones with the true power.   There is genuine surprise to discover of being the victim of a blacklist campaign by the J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, and a funny moment when discussing the backlash that the Smithsonian Institute encountered when miscrediting her lyrics.

Check out all of our TIFF coverage

It is interesting to learn how some of the songs came back and intriguing to learn that Buffy Sainte-Marie was exchanging digital music files to produce an album long before it became an industry practice.  Not completely sold on the re-enactment footage as interview clips are compelling in their own right whether it be archival or recently captured.  The child abuse revelation seems to come out of nowhere and perhaps needed to be introduced earlier when the time with adoptive family was first mentioned.

However, a nice touch is having the lyrics come across screen to emphasize their power and meaning.  A good moment is when Taj Mahal describes exchanging guitar chords with his university classmate while sitting across each other in a cramped hallway and to get her reaction afterwards.  The Oscar win takes on a bitter sweet context when it is revealed of the toxic relationship behind the song.   As much as this is a celebration, Saint-Marie is prepared to discuss personal failures which emphasize her genuineness and grounded perspective towards herself and the world.

The 47th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18, 2022, and for more information visit    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

Previous PostNext Post


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.