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// Films // CBQM

National Film Board


Denis Allen / Canada / 2009 / 67 ' / English


Doug Forbes
Dennis Allen
Kelly Wolfert & Allan Code
Bonnie Thompson

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Awards & Festivals

2009, Winner, Alanis Obomsawin Best Documentary Award, Imagine Native Film + Media Arts Festival, Canada

Upcoming Screenings

Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!

In Production

A film about Fort McPherson, a Teetl'it Gwich'in community in the Northwest Territories, and its citizen-run radio station.


The airwaves over the Mackenzie Delta resonate with the wild and joyous sounds
of a northern fiddle tune. CBQM’s far-flung listeners – solitary trappers in their cabins, Gwich’in
ladies busy with their beadwork, truckers heading north on the Dempster
Highway – take comfort in the presence of an old friend. For them CBQM is more than a simple radio station. It’s radio station – a dependable pal, a beacon in the storm of life, a resilient
expression of identity and pride. Whether it’s reporting wolf sightings or broadcasting bingo games,
airing debates on uranium mining or dedicating a hurtin’ country ballad to
some heart-broken local, the citizen-run station has served the people of Fort
McPherson for almost three decades. Dennis Allen – a long-time listener and gifted filmmaker – pays tribute
to the “Moccasin Telegraph” in his latest documentary, CBQM. With confident ease and a sharp ear for the poetry of daily life, he crafts a nuanced and big-hearted portrait of the place they call McPhoo, a
small town that hugs the banks of the Peel River, about 150 kilometres north
of the Arctic Circle. Home to some eight hundred souls, mostly Teetl’it Gwich’in, Fort
McPherson’s unique spirit finds vital expression on CBQM, where respected
elders share the mic with raucous fiddlers, and Reverend Sue (host of Heaven
Help Me) dispenses philosophy and cookie recipes. Allen documents it all
with humour and affection, weaving a richly informative tableau of life in a
northern town. An accomplished musician, Allen appreciates how song and storytelling
sustain a culture, and his multilayered soundtrack playfully juxtaposes CBQM’s
frequent personal announcements – “Angela, come over for a cup
of tea” – with generous portions of old time country: the musical
heartbeat of the North.


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