Julia Ivanova’s documentary Limit is the Sky is good but it starts out shaky. The pre credits scene has a white Canadian man writing and performing an improvised shitty rap song. The song is about making money in Fort McMurray. She then juxtaposes that with an Indigenous woman walking around one of the city’s work sites. The former person is insufferable, making me hope that I’m not going to spend 100 minutes with people like him.
Thankfully that guy wasn’t one of Limit is the Sky‘s six main subjects. Most of these subjects are millennials, and in capturing the real lives, Ivanova stocks this with surprises. One of the subjects sings a heartfelt rendition of Ako ay Pilipino, which I never thought I would hear in a film about Fort Mac. It also indicates the factors that shows the city as a place where people, regardless of race, can’t plant their roots there.
The subject who does shine out of the six subjects is Max, a Lebanese barber working in Fort Mac. He talks to Ivanova about eventually wanting to start a family. This is a thing that most of the subjects want, but they don’t see themselves doing that in Fort Mac. This is a city of wide economic disparities and a prevalent bro culture. Those factors do not make for a good place to live in.
Ivanova shot this doc in a four year period. It depicts the fire that ravaged Fort Mac during the year this had its festival release. But even then, she saw the signs of the boom town’s decline. Seamlessness is her signature, and it shows in the way she incorporates economic factors with the lives of her six subjects. This is a capable piece of work embodying both compassion and uncanny foresight.