Once again, GFF presents our annual series of stories of and by Indigenous peoples. Many of the films are from right here in Manitoba, and many more are from across Canada and around the Americas.
Generously sponsored by the Canada Media Fund!
dir. Jeff Barnaby
2019 | Canada | 96 min
The term “blood quantum” refers to a colonial blood measurement system that is used to determine an individual’s Indigenous status, and is criticized as a tool of control and erasure of Indigenous peoples. The words take on even more provocative implications as the title of Jeff Barnaby’s sophomore feature, which grimly depicts an apocalyptic scenario where in an isolated Mi’gmaq community discover they are the only humans immune to a zombie plague. As the citizens of surrounding cities flee to the Mi’gmaq reserve in search of refuge from the outbreak, the community must reckon with whether to let the outsiders in — and thus risk not just the extinction of their tribe but of humanity, period.
Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, The
dir. Kathleen Hepburn / Elle-Maija Tailfeathers
2019 | Canada / Norway | 105 min
When Áila encounters a young Indigenous woman, barefoot and crying in the rain on the side of a busy street, she soon discovers that this young woman, Rosie, has just escaped a violent assault at the hands of her boyfriend. Áila decides to bring Rosie home with her and over the course of the evening, the two navigate the aftermath of this traumatic event. Inspired by a very real and transformative moment in the co-director Elle-Ma?ija? Tailfeather’s life, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN weaves an intricately complex, while at the same time very simple, story of a chance encounter between two Indigenous women with drastically different lived experience, navigating the aftermath of domestic abuse.
Breaking The Silence
dir. Priscilla Padilla
2020 | Columbia / Bolivia | 83 min
Luz, from the Emberá Chamí Indigenous community in Colombia, left her home territory for Bogotá when she discovered she underwent female genital mutilation at birth. The Emberá is one of the few communities in South America that still carries out the practice, a brutal byproduct of colonialism.
Far from her family, Luz struggles to make her way in the relentless city, until she meets Claudia, a fellow Emberá Chamí and activist. Through the strength of their friendship, Claudia decides to travel to Luz’s home to start a dialogue with other Indigenous women and encourage them to make critical and urgent changes to end the practice of female genital mutilation. Through her intimate approaches to filming, director Priscila Padilla has crafted a deeply sensitive and breathtaking film that follows the women in their journey to break ties with colonialism and recover their ancestral wisdom of body–earth connection.
- Top 10 Audience Choice favourites at Hot Docs 2020`
dir. Myriam Verreault
2019 | Canada | 117 min
Adapted from Naomi Fontaine’s acclaimed novel, Kuessipan is Myriam Verreault’s first narrative feature. In a Quebec Innu community, Mikuan (Sharon Fontaine-Ishpatao) and Shaniss (Yamie Grégoire) struggle to maintain their close friendship when they clash over their diverging ambitions. When Mikuan falls in love with a white boy and starts to consider a life beyond their tiny reserve, her bond with Shaniss and her family is put to the test. A coming-of-age story told with humour, tenderness, and heartbreak, Kuessipan is a poignant exploration of evolving friendship and dreams, and the bonds that will forever root us in our culture. Kuessipan is told through an Indigenous lens yet remains relevant to us all as we discover the power of community — along with the individual strength it takes to follow our own path. – Eva Greyeyes, TIFF
maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore
dir. Sky Hopinka
2020 | United States | 8o min
Bodies of water ebb and flow throughout this poetic experimental documentary by filmmaker Sky Hopinka. Honoring connections to nature and the cycles of life, małni separately follows two American First Nation people from the Pacific Northwest as they share their own personal rituals and relationships to life, identity, language, and their homeland while sonically weaving in the origin-of-death myth from the Chinookan people. Meditative and beautifully photographed, Hopinka’s film is a lush exploration of afterlife, rebirth, and the place in-between. – San Francisco Film Festival
Nolan: Here Nor There
dir. Wilfred Dieter
2020 | Canada | 89 min
Nolan: Here Nor There is the coming-of-age tale of Nolan; a young man growing up on a reserve in the throes of a suicide epidemic. His mother, fearing for his life, sends him to live with family in Ft. Qu’Appelle. While in Ft. Qu’Appelle Nolan meets a quirky girl and a residential school survivor who become unwitting supports as he navigates his personal grief and finds his place in history and the treaty relationship.
dir. Madison Thomas
2019 | Canada | 84 min
Ruthless Souls follows Jackalope “Jackie” Cambell, a tough as nails Ojibwe artist born and raised in the strange land of Winnipeg, Manitoba. On the one year anniversary of her partner’s tragic death due to complications from gender affirming surgery, she’s back at work, she only drinks and smokes up “on the regular” instead of a “concerning amount daily.” It’s all gotta go up from here, right? Wrong.
Jackie finds out that her best friend Rooney has dumped her long time partner Tay. The problem? Tay is Jackie’s only other friend. The three have been each other’s pillars of supports since they were kids growing up in Winnipeg’s often turbulent North End. Jackie was so sure that she had just experienced the worst year of her life, but the year unfolding in front of her might just give it’s predecessor a run for it’s money. Jackie must now navigate the fallout of Rooney and Tay’s relationship while also trying to wrangle her own spiraling mind, especially when the ghosts of the past seem to be lingering