(October 10, 2015 – Toronto, ON) Indigenous roots, identity and representation are at the heart of six National Film Board of Canada (NFB) short films―directed by a mix of new filmmakers and some of Canada’s most acclaimed artists―screening at the 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto from October 14 to 18, 2015.
When Inuit filmmaker Bonnie Ammaaq was a little girl, she and her family moved from the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to Baffin Island, where for 11 years their home was a vast, wild and beautiful territory that lay outside their door. Her short documentary Nowhere Land is an elegy for a way of life that exists now only in the few still living who experienced it. Directed by Ammaaq, and written by her and Alicia Smith, the 15 minute Nowhere Land was produced by Alicia Smith and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Centre. This is Bonnie Ammaaq’s second film with the NFB, following her 2012 short film Family Making Sleds, which was created through Stories from Our Land, a film training program by the NFB and Nunavut Film Development Corporation. Nowhere Land will screen on Saturday, October 17 at 10AM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2
In Red Path, Atikamekw filmmaker Thérèse Ottawa offers an intimate look at the moving journey of Tony Chachai, a young Atikamekw man. His road to redemption—which begins with a promise to his dying mother—leads to a return to his roots and the passing on of his community’s cultural practices. This 15 minute film was originally produced in French as Le chemin rouge through the first edition of Tremplin NIKANIK, a competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec organized by the NFB in partnership with APTN. The film was produced for the NFB by Johanne Bergeron. It will screen on Thursday, October 15 at 10AM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
The festival is also featuring the four short films produced for the NFB’s Souvenir series, exploring Aboriginal identity and representation and created entirely from outtakes of more than 700 NFB films. Presented as part of the Opening Night Gala, Jeff Barnaby’s Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down) destroys any remaining shreds of the mythology of a fair and just Canada. Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize navigates the tension between the traditional and the modern experienced by a people moving ever forward. Michelle Latimer’s Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) deconstructs the layers beneath the recorded pageantry of Canadian nationalism. Kent Monkman’s Sisters & Brothers draws parallels between the annihilation of the bison and the devastation inflicted by the residential school system.
Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down) (5 min) has the honour of screening before the opening night film, Mekko on Wednesday, October 14 at 7PM at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema. Mi’gmaq Jeff Barnaby’s powerful depictions of post-colonial desolation have earned him the label “the bad boy of Canadian cinema.” His first short, From Cherry English (2005), won two Golden Sheaf Awards and played at dozens of festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca and the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). His third short film, File under Miscellaneous, premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). His recent feature Rhymes for Young Ghouls screened internationally in theatres after receiving the Tribeca 2012 Creative Promise Award for Narrative and the Best Canadian Feature Film Award at VIFF.
Mobilize is a 3 minute short by Caroline Monnet, an Algonquin multidisciplinary artist who has exhibited in Canada and internationally at venues such as the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), the Museum of Contemporary Art and Arsenal (Montreal), and the Toronto International Film Festival. She uses her work in film, video and sculpture to communicate complex ideas around Indigenous identity and bicultural living through the examination of cultural histories. Monnet is also a founding member of the Aboriginal digital arts collective ITWÉ. Mobilize will screen on Thursday, October 15 at 5:15PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 3.
Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) runs just 3 minutes and will screen on Friday, October 16 at 1PM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2. Michelle Latimer is an Algonquin/Métis filmmaker, actor and curator. Her 2014 short The Underground screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, won the best short film award at imagineNATIVE and was selected for Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent showcase at Cannes. Her feature documentary ALIAS premiered at the 2013 Hot Docs film festival and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. Her 2010 short film, Choke, premiered at Sundance where it received a Special Jury Honorable Mention in International Short Filmmaking, made TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten list, and was nominated for a Genie Award.
Finally, Sisters & Brothers, also 3 minutes long, is from Cree artist and filmmaker Kent Monkman who is internationally renowned for his provocative reinterpretations of romantic North American landscape painting and for exploring the Native American experience through themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience. His film and video works have been screened at venues such as Sundance, the Berlin International Film Festival and TIFF. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and has also participated in international group exhibitions. His awards include the Egale Leadership Award, the Indspire Award and the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award. (em>Sisters & Brothers screens Saturday, October 17 at 10AM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2.