Planting love

Profile: Millefiore Clarkes by Julie Bull

Millefiore (Mille) Clarkes is a documentarian who is drawn to love, nature, and the interconnectedness of all beings. Within the first few moments of our conversation, she said: “I have the heart of a philosopher with a love of poetry.”  With that, you can imagine the wonderfully delightful conversation that followed. 

Our dialogue weaved and wondered through topics of existentialism, climate grief, and other philosophical and pragmatic challenges that we are facing in our contemporary society. Mille’s calm and curious energy was a welcomed visitor while we discussed hard things. 

“There is a certain level of difficulty and hardness when we are operating exclusively in intellectual ways, but music and other forms of creativity allow us to connect with softness.”

While most of Mille’s creative endeavors are in film, she is also a writer who enjoys poetry, and she explores collage as visual art practice. “Collage is a fun exploration because it takes things that already exist and becomes something different and new when we add layers together.” 

For Mille, film is a lot like collage. While some people create film as a means of representation, Mille’s motivation and intention are different. “I’m interested in documenting how I sense the world and connect with others.”

“I also play the piano badly,” she chuckled while expressing the joy and excitement that comes with spontaneously breaking into music with pals at a kitchen party. Mille also loves to watch film and television, particularly those “that provide an opportunity to slip into another place and time.”

Mille owns and operates a production company called One Thousand Flowers Production where she produces a wide range of media art. As an award-winning filmmaker, Mille’s passion and proficiency can be found in nearly all aspects of film creation, from producer to director to editor and everything in between. Along with her independent work, Mille has directed four documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), several of which are also award-winning films. 

With her keen sense of observation and attunement, Mille is drawn to passionate people who are deeply loving and who have something to say. “And we all have something to say. It is our unique voices that need to be felt and heard through our creations.” We talked about our mutual love to witnessing other people share their craft, at open mics, for example. “Everyone has a whole universe inside them and seeing people express themselves through art is a wonderful way to connect with each other.”

Mille’s compassion and curiosity filled our conversation and she generously shared some of the greatest insights she has received and practiced throughout her life. Like most experimental artists, Mille encourages a playful and exploratory approach filled with mistakes. “Also, some of the best advice I ever received is to ask for advice and ideas but to do what I want. My dad taught me that no one can teach you your own voice, only you can do that, and sharing your voice is a gift to the world.”

While it can feel daunting to share ourselves through our voice, Mille offered beautiful words of insight that may alleviate some of the pressure: “There is a rawness and innocence in our early works that provides a beautiful avenue for connection.”

When Mille talked about connection, she was including the connection humans have with the land. “I’ve been feeling a lot of climate grief and I wanted to find ways for more direct action, aside from my films.” One of the ways she put that grief into action was as an organizer of the Climate Strike which took place in Charlottetown in September. The gathering of artists, activists, and advocates for the earth was a beautiful demonstration of the interconnectedness that Mille spoke about.  

“I believe in the power of art and how we can use our collective creativity and imagination to create a new shared consciousness. That is how we change the world.”

Julie Bull, an Inuk (NunatuKavut) researcher and educator, has extensive experience in community-based participatory action research, emphasizing Indigenous perspectives. A champion of social justice, Julie envisions collaborative efforts between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities worldwide. With a focus on research governance and ethics, her work with NunatuKavut has yielded notable publications and presentations.