TIFF 2012: Aboriginal Selects

Categories: Film + TV

Barefoot. Written and Directed by Danis Goulet, produced by Christine Kleckner.

Programmer’s Notes:

“Danis Goulet returns to northern Saskatchewan in the follow up to her acclaimed film Wapawekka. This coming-of-age tale follows sixteen-year-old Alyssa, a young Cree girl whose plans to be a mother are challenged by reality. Assured direction and keen insight deliver a powerful depiction of the pressures youth face in isolated communities and their attempts to take control of their lives.” Alex Rogalski

Filmmaker Danis Goulet’s short films have screened at festivals in Canada and abroad, including Sundance, Berlin and Toronto. Her work has been broadcast on CBC, Air Canada, and Movieola. She is an alumnus of the National Screen Institute’s Drama Prize Program and the TIFF Talent Lab.This film is one of eleven bravoFACT funded shorts selected for screening at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and one of the 44 Canadian short films to screen as part of the Short Cuts sidebar.

“Canada’s policy of assimilation and colonization has had a profound effect on this generation of Aboriginal youth. We see it on the news all the time – high suicide rates, substance abuse, poverty, but this really isn’t the whole picture. In telling the story I was hoping to create a little window into this world that doesn’t shy away from nuance and complexity. Yes there are harsh realities but there is so much more – there are hopes and aspirations and tradition and determination.” Danis Goulet

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The Dancing Cop. Written by Kelvin Redvers, and Alexandra Staseson, Produced by Kelvin Redvers, Taylor Milne,  and Thomas Balzer.

Programmers Notes:

“A Native man is suspected of theft by an overzealous police officer, who suddenly breaks away from typical police behaviour. A surreal musical satire, The Dancing Cop unconventionally addresses the bubbling tensions between the First Nations populace and the powers that be.” Magali Simard

Kelvin Redvers is a First Nations filmmaker born in Hay River, Northwest Territories. His short films include Playing Cards (07), the documentary A Look at the Life of Morgan Green (08),Firebear Called Them Faith Healers (09), Kid’s Court (10) and The Dancing Cop (12). This is one of Eleven bravoFACT funded shorts selected for screening at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival.

This film features First Nations BC actor William Belleau, who played a Quileute Warrior on The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. You can watch the director’s  interview with CTV News BC here.

“You want to make a film so that the audience will take it in, so that they’re not going to get pushed away by something that will be very heavy.” Kevin Redvers (on making his short a musical)

I’m Beginning to Miss You. Written and directed by Sakay Ottawa. Produced by Wapikoni Mobile.

When Pinaskin Ottawa disappeared from Manawan, Québec, no one saw him leave. His brother struggles to not lose hope, looking for clues and continuing his search. Stark images of a winter landscape scattered with fragments of human existence emphasize this poetic and chilling tale of loss.

Programmers Notes:

“”The last time my cousins saw him, that’s what he said: ‘I’m going out there, I’ll be back later.’” No one saw Pinaskin Ottawa leave the day he disappeared from Manawan, Quebec. His brother struggles to not lose hope, looking for clues and continuing his search. Stark images of a winter landscape scattered with fragments of human existence emphasize this poetic and chilling tale of loss.” Alex Rogalski

Sakay Ottawa is from the Manawan First Nation in Quebec. I’m beginning to miss you (12) is his most recent short film.

The Lesser Blessed. Written and directed by Anita Doron. Produced by Christina Piovesan. Executive Producer Richard Van Camp.

A teenage metalhead living in a remote community in the Northwest Territories grapples with the challenges of adolescence in this affecting adaptation of the critically acclaimed novel by Richard Van Camp.

Programmers Notes:

“High school is especially harsh for Larry Sole (Joel Nathan Evans), a teenaged metal-head living in a remote community in the Northwest Territories. Shy and ruminative, he’s taunted daily by his town’s golden boy and resident bully, Darcy (Adam Butcher). This is because of Larry’s tortured past, and his Aboriginal roots: he, his mother Verna (Tamara Podemski) and her sometime boyfriend Jed (Benjamin Bratt) are all members of the Tlicho First Nation. Larry also nurtures a crush on the popular Juliet Hope (Chloe Rose) — who just happens to be tight with Darcy. Things seem to change for the better when Jed returns from a trip to the bush and a new kid, the Métis Johnny Beck (Kiowa Gordon), arrives at school. Johnny and Larry become fast friends for a variety of reasons — most important among them, Johnny is the only one with the cojones to stand up to Darcy. Little does Larry know that his past and this new friendship are on a collision course that could alter his life.

Working from the beloved novel by Tlicho author Richard Van Camp, writer-director Anita Doron demonstrates a deep sensitivity toward her teenage characters, their problems, and the distinct manner in which they interact with one another. The rural setting is far from idyllic, in fact nature serves a double function here: it’s linked to the stories Jed and others tell about the Tlicho’s origins, but it’s also dangerous — red in tooth and claw.

Moreover, for Larry and his buddies, local culture seems to consist entirely of house parties, booze and hot knives. None of them seem fully equipped to deal with their level of independence. As one character says when he’s asked to take responsibility for his actions, “I’m just a kid, man.”

An affecting study of lost kids trying to find their way to adulthood, The Lesser Blessed is also notable for Doron’s compassionate insight. Her empathy is deepened by her decision to foreground traditional Tlicho storytelling with numerous key moments and observations addressed through folktales and dreams. It’s also buoyed by her cast, a mix of veterans and neophytes led by Podemski and Bratt, who are completely convincing as a couple who’ve been through hard times but are determined to make a go of it.” Steve Gravestock

This features Benjamin Bratt, Kiowa Gordon (of the Twilight series), and Tamara Podemski. This is one feature not to be missed!

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