Cinema and living arts at the heart of 27th First Peoples Festival August 2nd – 9th

Anniversaries are opportunities to look back, and while doing so, to re-examine legacies. The city is promoting reconciliation through the joint initiative of Mayor Coderre and AFNQL, while the Société du 375e invite us to build bridges. First Peoples Festival, which spearheaded the progress now gaining ground, intends to play a major role in this promising project. Indigenous Youth will have pride of place in this year’s event, taking place under the sign of renewal, meetings and friendship.

As has become our tradition, First Peoples Festival will kick off its festive installations in the Quartier des spectacles with dances, concerts, active art and grilling with an Indigenous touch, while a parallel international film and video competition will present the best of cinematographic creations by and about First peoples.

Building on Montréal’s 375th anniversary, 2017 will break new ground: at Place du Makusham  (alias Place des Festivals), a new theatrical creation will span three evenings: Ioskeha et Tawiscara: le grand Jeu de la création. This is interactive theatre delving into the cosmovision of the peoples from this place. An act of ritual and processional theatre will bring two great heroes of the tales of Indigenous tradition back to life at the very heart of Montreal, the enemy twins whose titanic confrontation presides the creation of the world. Its choreographer and director Pierre-Paul Savoie takes part in the production. The scenography will be assured by Michel Marsolais, inspired and advised by the artist Christine Sioui-Wawanoloath.

On August 4th, on the Quebecor stage, Nikamotan Mtl, a show inspired by encounters between singer-composer-songwriters among the new Indigenous wave and well-known performers on the Quebec musical scene: Natasha Kanapé-Fontaine with Random Recipe; Matiu with Dramatik; Esther Pennell with La Bronze; and Laura Niquay with Sunny Duval. An initiative by Musique nomade, in partnership with First Peoples’ Festival.


Dedicated to welcoming and friendship, a veritable celebration of contemporary Montreal identity with performers from different Montreal communities, the great parade, returning for its seventh year, the Défilé de l’amitié nuestroamericana avec Montréal et avec les Premières Nations marches forth under the emblematic figure of Ataensic, the woman who fell from the sky, foremother of all humanity.

With these interactive activities in the public space, a liturgy for modern times is taking shape, via the parade, the scenography at Place du Makusham and the ritual theatre, restoring the city’s connection with its deepest identity. It reappears now in new forms through partnerships among artists of all origins drawing upon the sources and renewal of Indigenous culture. This makes the celebrations touch the chords of our collective lust for life that resonates powerfully.

The metaphor of a rediscovery of the former Hochelaga in our sous-sol provides the starting point for an ambitious cinematographic epic seeking to encompass the essence of this place, our habitat. François Girard set out to meet contemporary Indigenous people to rediscover the spirit of this place in order to touch this essence with his forthcoming film Hochelaga, terre des âmes (Hochelaga, land of souls). Around this creation, he will relate, in the presence of several First Nations actors who worked on it, how the process of filming Hochelaga, terre des âmes is on the path that must lead us to reconciliation with our history, with the territory and ourselves, for each of us, whatever our origin. The spirit of the place speaks the ancestral languages of the first peoples of this land and continues speaking to us nowadays of peace and friendship.

The anniversary resonating throughout the festival is the 10years since adoption of the UN declaration on the rights of Indigenous peoples; our closing evening will be dedicated to this (in close partnership with the Commission des droits de la personne et de jeunesse, Wapikoni mobile and the Courts critiques association). This will take place in the Grande Bibliothèque auditorium, the same venue where seven days earlier, the festival’s grand opening featured a program of shorts spotlighting emerging talents already making a name for themselves via their originality in current Indigenous cinema (among them Caroline Monnet who, alongside Sébastien Augin, will create an original multimedia work this summer for First Peoples Festival). 


A cinema that now includes many feature films. There are several Canadian premieres. These include the magnum opus from Video nas Aldeias, our Brazilian friends, who with their great documentary Martirio, have delivered an epic on the tragic story of the Guarani-Kaiowa people from Mato Grosso do Sul and their stubborn resistance against genocidal aggression.                    

Icaros: A vision, a psychoanalytic and hallucinatory feature film on the quest for the absolute that leads North Americans to seek salvation among Shipibo healers from Peruvian Amazonia.

Zach’s Ceremony by Aaron Petersensur on how a young Aboriginal who grew up in an urban setting reconnected with his identity.

Tribal Justice, by Anne Makepeace, the great American documentary filmmaker (nominated for an Oscar in 2000) who will come to present her most recent film.

Two Soft Things, Two Hard Things will resonate in the official selection where Deep Inside Clint Star by filmmaker Clint Alberta (1970-2002) will be screened. Developed by Thomas Waugh and Jordan Arsenault, at the helm of the Data Base project on Canada-Québec queer media (Concordia University), a double program will explore the history of Indigenous Two-Spirited and Queer shorts in Québec and Canada.

Also note at Concordia University, a series of Inuit films that will be screened at Galerie FOFA.

Along with the shorts, there are several feature films among the candidates for the APTN award, rewarding an Indigenous filmmaker for an exceptional success in the previous year: Zacharias Kunuk for Maligultit (Searchers), Rezolution Pictures for Rumble, the Indians who Rock the World, Janine Windolph for The Land of Rock and Gold, and Alethea Arnaquq Baril for Angry Inuk (the latter screened outdoors in partnership with SAT).

We must once again mention Sami Katja Gauriloff filmmaker’s creation, Kaisa’s Enchanted Forest, Carl Morasse’s Indian Time, Redfern Now; Promise Me, by Rachel Perkins, an Australian director of Arrernte and Kalkadoon origin, Johogoi Aiyy, a lyrical film by Sergey Potapov, and the sumptuous Frère des arbres: l’appel d’un chef papou by Marc Dozier and Luc Marescot.

First Peoples’ festival benefits from support from many partners including the Canadian Guild of Crafts where we launched the exhibit of Abraham Anghik Ruben’s works, Les esprits se rencontrent; Makavik Corporation which with Taku is showcasing Montreal Inuit artists; Espace culturel Ashukan which will be launching the show From Smoke to Cyber Signals (Des signaux de fumée aux signaux cybernétiques); Abenaki artist Carmen Hathaway is exploring cultural memories and Indigenous influences via contemporary digital means of expression: This venue will also host APTN masterclasses with indigenous filmmakers. And PQDS will present two noontime concerts with Indigenous performers Sila and Rise on Thursday the 3rd and Matiu, Friday the 4th, at Jardins Gamelin.

Terres en vues thanks everyone who year after year provides their support to ensure that the dream of a major festival dedicated to First Peoples’ art becomes a reality, and in particular Quebecor, First Peoples’ Festival’s major partner.