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The Independent Critic

Zita Cobb, Todd Saunders
Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight
54 Mins.
First Run Features

 "Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island" Released by First Run 
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What does the future hold for traditional rural societies in a rapidly changing world?

Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island is precisely the kind of film that indie distributor First Run Features handles best, the kind of film that is, indeed, a little strange and a little familiar and a whole lotta wonderful. It's beautiful to behold, with co-director and D.P. Marcia Connolly's lensing capturing the meditative spirit and staggering beauty of Fogo Island, a small speck in the Atlantic off the cost of Newfoundland, a small village with a lifelong dependence on the fishing industry suddenly facing a changing world and a need to adapt to survive.

When local entrepreneur Zita Cobb, and yes one can be an entrepreneur in even small towns and villages, teams up with renowned architect Todd Saunders to build a one-of-a-kind inn on a rugged, windswept coastline, they end up creating an amazingly original design that becomes a catalyst for Fogo Island's social and economic change.

Co-directors Marcia Connolly and Katherine Knight capture quite beautifully how this rural wonderland managed to weave together the lives of the community members with local artisans, alongside Cobb and Saunders, to create a journey brimming with uncertain hope and creative change.

As an adult in a wheelchair, Fogo Island is the kind of place that both terrifies me and mesmerizes me. It's the kind of community with a rich tradition and an inspiring spirit, yet it's also one where I wonder "Could I even survive?"

Maybe. Maybe not.

Winner of the Best Canadian Film at the International Festival of Film on Arts and Best Atlantic Documentary and Best Atlantic Cinematography at the Atlantic Film Festival, Strange & Familiar somehow manages to weave together past and present, challenge and opportunity into a 54-minute cinematic journey that captures how it is infinitely possible to honor a community's history while adapting to the inevitable evolution of life and circumstance and nature. It is also a reminder of those things that draw us in, communities we leave and bring us back because of those intimately unspoken aspects of daily life that integrate themselves into the fabric of our lives.

Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island is a vital documentary for those who embrace living on the edge and appreciate the vitality of ever evolving community.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic