The excellence of Aboriginal cinema from here and abroad is celebrated at the First Peoples’ Festival, with films in competition, of all genres and categories
Montreal, July 11th, 2023. Some feature-length films immediately stand out from the selection. The remarkable
opening film, Twice Colonized, about Inuit activist Aaju Peters, comes to mind; she will honour us with her presence.
We’re also reminded of Francis Fourcou’s Occitan-language documentary Un pont au-dessus de l’océan, the American premiere of his film on the ancient ties between the Occitan country and the Osage nation (now made famous by Martin Scorcese’s most recent film), a film with a keen eye for endangered languages and the poets who tenderly keep them alive against all odds. Then there’s We are Guardians, about the native rangers who risk their lives to protect the integrity of the Amazon rainforest. Here we see how the struggles of the first peoples concern all humanity in these troubled times when our survival on this planet is far from assured.
Next up : Life of Ivanna, an unabashed documentary about the harsh reality of a single-parent Nenetse woman in the Siberian tundra; a film which, in its unvarnished verism, ends up becoming an ode to the resilience of a single woman who puts heroism into her life and that of her children. Bring Her Home is about the tragedy of missing and murdered aboriginal women in communities across the U.S. and Canada. One of the documentary’s protagonists is Deb Haaland, who made history by becoming the first Native woman to hold a cabinet post in the United States. Mamá (Mama) by Xun Sero (Mexico) features a young Tzotzil filmmaker in an engaging dialogue with her mother.
And the closing film, The Doctrine, presented in an advanced but unfinished version in the presence of director
Gwendolen Cates, recounts the infamous Doctrine of Discovery, first promulgated by a pope, which then inspired
colonial law right up to the present day.
It’s also hard not to take in the great films inspired by the work of Maori writer Witi Ihimaera, guest of honor at
Festival 2023. Some will want to revisit the celebrated Whale Rider, which will be screened outdoors in Cabot Square on Monday August 7th. And cinephiles won’t want to miss Mahana, the feature film that marked Lee Tamahori’s (Once were warriors) return to his homeland, presented at the NFB’s Alanis-Obomsawin Hall on August 10th.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discover some remarkable films, particularly short films. Ellen Gabriel will present Kanatenhs – When The Pine Needles Fall, a chronicle of the struggle of Kanien’kehá:ka women from Kanehsatà:ke to protect their territory. The short fiction category reveals the talents of young filmmakers to be discovered, including GiNo Pitarch with Kanak, which portrays Siwane, a traditional dancer from New Caledonia; Canada’s Mary Galloway with Better At Texting, which depicts the unlikely collaboration of a feminist aboriginal woman and a black Mormon woman; Pat-i Kayapó with Nhakpoti on the Mêbêngôkre-Kayapó legend, which traces the origins of agriculture in her Amazonian community of A’Ukre (made in collaboration with Paul Chilsen); Bailey Poching with The Voyager Legacy (Aotearoa/New Zealand), which follows the three youngest children of a Samoan family as they imagine their home transformed into a magical fantasy world of fairy tales, swords and sorcery.
The APTN Award competition provides an opportunity to revisit some of the year’s outstanding films and series by aboriginal filmmakers, including, for example, Gail Maurice’s Rosie, which will be screened at the Médiathèque de la Grande Bibliothèque (like the other films in this category) and, in this case, at the Maison de la culture Verdun on August 15th.
In addition to the winner of the APTN Recognition Award (to an aboriginal filmmaker who has distinguished
himself/herself during the previous year), two other Mattiusis statuettes will be presented, one for the Teueikan
Grand Prize (artistic award) and the other for the Rigoberta-Menchu Grand Prize (social award), the latter awarded in collaboration with the foundation of the famous nobelized maya.
But there’s something new this year: in addition to the Best Canadian Short Film presented by Espace
autochtone/Radio-Canada, the Relève Main Film, Best Animated Film, Best International Short Film and Best
Cinematography awards, the Best Documentary award will now be known as the Films du 3 mars award, and F3M will be awarding a bursary to a Canadian documentary filmmaker in the selection, as well as offering space on its broadcasting platform. Finally, we announce the creation of the Air-Canada-Matera Award, which will enable two Canadian Aboriginal filmmakers to accompany their films to Matiff, the Matera International Film Festival in Italy, with whom First Peoples’ Festival has signed a partnership agreement to bring Canadian Aboriginal cinema to the Italian public and market.
Thanks to a partnership with Radio-Canada, a selection of films from the latest edition will be available on ICI
TOU.TV from September 25th to October 22nd.
For information and interviews: IXION Communications, 514 495-8176, firstname.lastname@example.org