The following article was written by Jennifer Cikaluk as part of a series of articles about filmmakers coming to the Salt Spring Film Festival on March 2-4, 2018. Filmmaker Tai Uhlmann along with Co-Director Theo Angell will be attending the festival and leading a discussion about the film following the screening. The Filmmaker series is sponsored by: Stonehouse B&B, Harbour House Hotel and Hastings House.
LUND – End of the Road: Interview with Co-Director/Producer Tai Uhlmann
Flash back to the sixties: the counterculture social revolution and a time of rebellion against the conservative norm. Youth were seeking greater individual freedom and exploring new expressions through music, drugs, clothing, and their sexuality. Many were politically disenfranchised and mistrusting of the government, bringing rise to the anti-Vietnam war movement in the United States.
“It was a very hard time to be in America at the time. The feeling was either we had to get involved and try to change things or we had to get out.” (from Lund)
This is where the film Lund: End of the Road, begins. By the late sixties, following the Summer of Love and Woodstock a migration began. A group of American draft evaders, along with some intellectuals and free spirited individuals began heading west in search of a freer way of life.
“I never thought, well I can always go to Canada. It was not an option. I didn’t know that Canada exists… I just took off. I was heading with the Volkswagen Van, 1970, heading west. That was it. No map, just heading west” (from Lund)
They drove Highway 101 until there was no more road and discovered the small BC coastal harbour town of Lund. They found paradise and were at one with nature yet completely ill prepared. Together, they learned how to live off the land. They developed a community based on inclusiveness and acceptance. They created their own rules (or lack there of) and engaged in an experiment of new social order enhanced with lots of drug-induced free loving interactions.
“When we got up here there was all this freedom to be. A freedom that I can only have imagined.” (from Lund)
This experiment did not come without its challenges. The migration of hippies continued to flow into the lands around Lund. At times, the new settlers found themselves at odds with the Lund ‘old-timers’, a community with deep roots in logging, fishing and farming. With time they came to accept their differences and found common ground. They established themselves, building homes, having children and seeking ways to contribute, but never changing their commitment to the lifestyle they had so bravely sought.
“When the longhaired often-naked hippies showed up they really didn’t fit with this kind of old-time pioneer ethos here. There were a lot of conflicts” (from Lund)
The Co-Director, Tai Uhlmann, herself one of Lund’s hippie kids has returned to make Lund her home. Her film is a tribute to her childhood community, a film five years in the making. It is atmospheric and beautiful, fun and wacky. With intimate and candid interviews, she provides us with the opportunity to get to know this amazing tapestry of people. The film weaves old Super 8 footage and photographs throughout, transporting you to those days of sun hazed, naked, field romping self-exploration and captures the true essence of what it was like to be there at the end of the road.
Fast-forward to 2018, and you have to wonder if we are not ripe for a new revolution. Perhaps a new migration is on the horizon, a new road for a new beginning.
I reached out to Co-Director, Producer and Executive Producer, Tai Uhlmann to talk to her about the film and her experience as a filmmaker and Co-Director with Theo Angell on Lund: End of the Road.
Q & A Questions:
Why did you feel the story of the migration of hippies and the development of a ‘off the grid’ community in BC was a story that needed to be told? Is it more than documenting your childhood community?
Having grown up as a hippy kid in Lund and leaving for a life in San Francisco and NYC it became clear my childhood wasn’t the norm and that people always had a lot of questions for me. There is a freedom to the stories told in our film that people of my generation yearn for. As the world becomes more driven by technology and distance, many of us long for connection to community and a close proximity to nature. Sustainability, experimentation, political resistance, protesting war and giving the middle finger to the status quo were driven by the generation of people we capture in this film. These stories inspired us and the subjects were getting older and their voices dying. Through their candid and often revealing accounts of the time we experience their vision, their failure and their courage. Who better to tell the stories than those who lived them.
Is the ‘Lund experiment’ still going on? What elements of the original settlement still exist in Lund? How has it evolved and if so, how is it thriving or struggling?
Lund is still keeping it real! There are many of the original hippies still living in the funky houses they built in the bush. There are still outhouses, unpredictable wiring, potlucks and healing circles. Many of us have returned with our own kids and others from across Canada and the US looking for cheap land to grow their own food and find home in a small supportive community with a rich and worldly history.
You have a personal connection to Lund being one of the ‘Hippie Kids’ and I understand you have left NYC to live in Lund. What led up to the decision to join the ‘migration’?
My husband (co-Director Theo Angell) and I were living in New York and had just had our first child. We started to see the city through her eyes and it was so loud and dirty…city dirt! I yearned for home and raising kids were they could be barefoot and pee outside so I suggested Portland (close enough) and Theo suggested Lund. It was a bit of a drastic move but it was a good way to delve into this film project and we‘ve never looked back!
Was Lund a different place when you returned home – is it all you hoped it would be? Have you found a new beginning at the end of the Road?
Lund has always been changing and redefining itself and continues to be a place for people to get lost & found. There are great things happening there now. The Tla’amin Nation owns Lund again and the town is being revitalized. Families continue to move here from all over Canada for the freedom it offers and the hippies make it a town where everyone knows your name.
The opening of your film explores the disenfranchisement of the establishment in the USA, draft dodgers and the politically unsatisfied. Do you see a parallel to what is happening in the US now and do you think we will see another migration of sorts?
Yes. The migration is happening now and happened during the Gulf war as well. I lived in the US for all 8 years of George W. Bush and thought that was bad. The current US government is far worse and is not a safe place for many immigrants or for many of it’s own citizens if you are Black or Muslim. The world is in a far more precarious place than it was in the 60’s with global warming, oceans of plastic, food insecurity, vanishing bees, the continuous war machine and threat of terror, and so much more. I think Canada (though we have our own wrought history) seems like a stable and safe haven for many.
You worked on this project for many years – starting in 2008. Did you encounter challenges or resistance during the filmmaking process? Did all the community members of Lund embrace this film?
Mostly people wanted to tell their stories. There were a few folks who are private and wanted to keep it that way but contributed in other ways like offering photographs to be included in the film. Overall I think it was a cathartic experience and really healing for a few who had unresolved feelings having left their country and family for something completely unknown. Through the film and seeing their full stories shared they were able to see their leaving not as an act of giving up but as an act of courage.
Has taking a personal and immersive look into your community made you see things differently about your community? Are all the stones turned over? How much did you choose to filter out?
The process of making this film gave me a much deeper understanding and respect for all the adults in my community who raised me. They had such trust in the unknown and a willingness to take personal risks and try things that were completely out of their scope of understanding. There are always more stories to uncover and tell. Each interview lasted around 2 hours so there is much more than we could ever include in the film. We really wanted the film to be the community telling their own story.
Is End of the Road, homage to something that once was or a calling to something that could be?
It is both. We must know our past to see our future. Learn from the experience of others and use those experiences to inform our own way forward. We wanted to honour and humour the great humans in our film as well as make the film current and accessible to younger generations. As my mom says in the film, “It wasn’t something that just was. It can be again. It’s all right here.”
By Jennifer Cikaluk