For 2015, the Victoria Film Festival has added a special program focusing on Indigenous films. Michelle Latimer, an award-winning Métis/Algonquin filmmaker, actor and curator, selected this year’s line-up. Celebrating what has been described as the “Indigenous New Wave” in cinema, the program features landmark films from some of Canada’s most prolific and accomplished Indigenous artists, as well as emerging talent from around the world.
“All over the world, Aboriginal artists are being celebrated for creating films that authentically voice the contemporary Indigenous experience,” says Michelle Latimer, whose short film Choke was named one of Canada’s Top Ten films by TIFF in 2011. “The work you will see in this program is a reclamation of history; a retelling of the past from a distinctly Indigenous perspective.”
Exploring the troubling history of Canada’s treaties with First Nations peoples, prolific filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s latest documentary, Trick or Treaty?, uncovers disturbing revelations about the legitimacy of the treaty process and eloquently articulates how past injustices threaten to fracture our nation today. Trick or Treaty? screens Feb. 8.
Special guests set to attend the Festival in support of their work include Sundance favourite Sydney Freeland, who screens the critically lauded drama Drunktown’s Finest on Feb. 10. Freeland’s film, winner of the Jury Award at LA’s Outfest, explores the lives of three young Navajo people who struggle to leave behind life on the reserve and form their own identities.
Helen Haig-Brown is also scheduled to attend the Festival, alongside her intimate documentary My Legacy. Cinematic, poetic, and insightful, My Legacy explores the intergenerational effects of Canada’s residential school system. A powerful tale of personal and political forgiveness centering on Haig-Brown’s own story, My Legacy screens Feb. 7.
Interestingly, of the six films selected, five feature female directors.
“Traditionally, women within First Nations communities are regarded as ‘Keepers of the Water’, carrying the responsibility to be the voice for those whom are most vulnerable,” explains Latimer. “With confident determination, the films featured here honour this tradition.”
Fresh and uncompromising, the Festival’s first-ever Indigenous program pushes the boundaries of cinematic form. Terril Calder’s imaginative stop-motion animated film The Lodge, screening Feb. 9, draws from ancient tales to subtly critique colonial concepts of savagery and conquest.
Pulsing with energy and urgency, the Greenlandic documentary Sumé presents the soundtrack to a revolution. This highly entertaining rock-umentary explores how the politically charged rock music of Indigenous band Sumé sent shockwaves through then Danish ruled Greenland. Sumé has its British Columbia premiere on Feb. 6.
Click here for more information about the Victoria Film Festival’s Indigenous film program.
For more information about Michelle Latimer, visit http://www.michellelatimer.ca/about/