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NFB Explores the Power of Instagram


(October 27, 2016 – Vancouver, BC) One of the key factors in the award-winning National Film Board (NFB) short documentary this river is the people – the every day, ordinary citizens who volunteer to search the banks and water of Winnipeg’s Red River in response to the problem of missing people in their community. When the film won an award at Montreal’s First Peoples Festival, producer Alicia Smith said, in part, “I’m humbled by the generosity and grace of Winnipeg’s Drag the Red community, and honoured that they welcomed us to witness and document their crucial work.”

At some point, someone must have asked something like “what are the stories behind those people who volunteer?” That seems to be the driving question behind the creation of an Instagram site What Brings Us Here, which serves as a companion piece to the film.

Created by author and filmmaker Katherena Vermette and NFB producer Alicia Smith, What Brings Us Here profiles the volunteers of “Drag the Red” and the “Bear Clan Patrol,” which are grassroots MMIWG (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman & Girls) and MMIP (Missing and Murdered Indigenous People) movements in Winnipeg. These are the dedicated individuals who patrol neighbourhoods and search the Red River in response to the problem of missing people in their community.

An experiment in social medial storytelling from the NFB’s North West Studio, What Brings Us Here combines photographs and statements by the volunteers, bringing together many voices and experiences to answer a central question: “What brings you here to do this work?” It’s a compelling community portrait marked by strength, resilience, grace and generosity, beautifully documented by Winnipeg photographers Karen Asher, Mark Reimer and Janine Kropla.

This unfolding photo-essay project will continue until late November, 2016. During that time, it is anticipated that more than 80 images and stories will be posted.

What Brings Us Here and this river are executive-produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio.