TIFF 2013: Empire of Dirt Review

By Eric Marchen
September 5, 2013

Empire of Dirt

Empire of Dirt

Contemporary World Cinema

Director: Peter Stebbings

Set in motion when First Nations Mother, Lena (Carla Gee), learns her thirteen year old daughter (Shay Eyre) has overdosed, this very Canadian indie film unfolds to reveal an authentic, albeit typical, drama. Fleeing the prying eyes of social services, Lena returns to her estranged mother’s home in rural Ontario. For added discomfort, the reformed addict Lena is faced with addressing her past and facing the mother (Jennifer Podemski) who kicked her out as a teen.

Not without richness, these three generations of women face the somewhat average levels of dysfunction, but with First Nation challenges added to the mix. The more intimate tale of mother daughter is occasionally pushed aside, sometimes awkwardly. Gee’s performance as a struggling mother trying to stay clean is strong, but she lacks the visual mileage and weariness of someone with her past. Podemski delivers as a recovered gambling addict who has become more wise and softened with age, while granddaughter, Eyre, only looks the part of a hardcore adolescent. (Eric Marchen)


Friday, September 6th, Scotiabank 2, 9:45pm

Sunday, September 8th, Scotiabank 14, 9:15am

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