Canada Council Digital Originals

New doc follows a parade of puppet crows through Charlottetown

For the past 10 years, a giant flock of crows has been parading through Charlottetown on the night of an annual art festival.

The Flock is a new documentary about bringing joy to small groups of people — with crows

"So many people are craving to celebrate and be playful and kind of forget a little bit, for a moment," said Megan Stewart. (Ann Winslow)

For the past 10 years, a giant flock of crows has been parading through Charlottetown on the night of an annual art festival.

The crows are actually puppets, and the march draws hundreds of people — either dressed like crows or there to watch them go by. 

This year, though, organizers announced the popular March of the Crows was cancelled. The August art festival could go on, but big crowds were not an option.

Instead, one of the event's original creators, Megan Stewart, decided to curate a performance and make a documentary about it. 

"We kept much of our work somewhat secret, and we could not publicize the parade route on the day of the event to prevent people from gathering in crowds," says Stewart. "So it felt a little more spontaneous and guerrilla-style." 

Small groups of people ended up being in the right place at the right time though. They got to see a flock of puppets cawing and playing music while moving through the city.

"My core collaborators on the project, Ian McFarlane and Laura Stinson, led the creation of a giant crow puppet with a 24-foot wingspan, made from willow branches, bamboo, wire and fabric. We named her Lucinda," says Stewart. 

Crows on stilts march through Charlottetown. The Flock is the subject of a new short documentary. (Ann Winslow)

"We had two weeks to make everything, so it was an intensive creation process. At first, we were disappointed by not being able to involve the public, but we were able to find some creative freedom in that. It allowed us to be nimbler and direct more … scenes within the procession." 

The documentary that was shot that day, called The Flock, captures a moment in time: a summer night after many months of the people in Charlottetown worrying about and coping with the pandemic.

The aim of the parade's creators, and ultimately the documentary itself, was to capture some joy.

"Especially with things like parades or processions, you really feel you are part of, one, this larger object; but [also] two, this larger event happening," McFarlane says in the documentary. "And that's a pretty wonderful experience and [a] humbling experience."

"So many people are craving to celebrate and be playful and kind of forget a little bit, for a moment," Stewart adds.

You can see the parade, crows and stilts, as well as the artists explaining their work in the video below. 

The Flock

CBC Arts

5 months ago
5:53
The Flock is a documentary by Megan Stewart and is part of Digital Originals, a Canada Council for the Arts initiative. 5:53

À lire en français sur le site de Radio-Canada.

This story is part of Digital Originals, an initiative of the Canada Council for the Arts. Artists were offered a $5,000 micro-grant to either adapt their existing work or create new work for the digital world during the COVID-19 pandemic. CBC Arts has partnered with Canada Council to feature a selection of these projects. You can see more of these projects here.

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