Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Weekend of films at local theatre highlights indigenous voices

September 25, 2015 by Alyssa Koehler, contributing writer

After the popularity of the indigenous film program at the 2015 Victoria Film Festival (VFF), The Vic Theatre decided it was time to bring Victoria audiences an international series of films by indigenous filmmakers. So, that’s exactly what will happen from September 27 to 29 at The Vic.

The three-day event puts the spotlight on indigenous artists telling their own stories, subject matter often overlooked by mainstream films.

VFF and Vic Theatre programmer Donovan Aikman says that a diverse and enthusiastic audience has been attracted to the screenings of indigenous films at VFF, and they don’t want that to stop now.

“We’re trying to keep some of that momentum going on through the year,” says Aikman. “We’re very blessed to have Michelle Latimer as our programmer; she’s super on top of the filmmakers that are making a difference in the indigenous filmmaking world.”

Sol, screening on September 27, is a Canadian movie directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Susan Avingaq. The film is an investigation of the death of Solomon Uyarasak in police custody in 2012. The Inuk actor and musician is said by the police in Igloolik, Nunavut to have committed suicide while in their custody, but many in the community suspected murder.

“It’s a very heavy documentary,” says Aikman, “but a very important look at how criminal cases are handled and the repercussions in the community, something that really doesn’t get discussed enough.”

On September 28, This May Be the Last Time, an American film directed by Sterlin Harjo, will be screened. The movie looks at the mysterious disappearance of Harjo’s uncle in Sasakwa, Oklahoma in 1962. At the time, members of the Seminole community searched for him and sang songs of encouragement to support each other.

Through this, the movie tells the story of Creek Nation hymns, and those who keep this style of singing alive. Aikman says that although the documentary “involves a death, which is not a positive thing in and of itself,” it is also a story about how music is “a transformative and powerful force.” After the show there will be an audience discussion led by CFUV’s Native Waves’ co-host Troy Sebastien.

Boy tells the tale of a child’s father returning from prison and how the reality isn’t as amazing as expected (photo provided).

Boy closes off the fest on September 29; the movie, which is set in the ’80s, is directed by Taika Waititi, and is New Zealand’s highest-grossing film of all time. The main character, Boy, is 11 years old; he’s a serious Michael Jackson fan living with his grandma.

When Boy’s father suddenly returns from prison, Boy couldn’t be more thrilledŃhaving built up an imaginary heroic father figure in his mind… until the reality of the incompetent hoodlum he’s presented with sinks in.

“Australia and New Zealand have a strong cinematic history unto themselves,” says Aikman. “This one was a huge hit in New Zealand; it didn’t really get as much play here.”

Aikman says that he feels strongly about promoting indigenous films and filmmakers, given how underrepresented they are in the mainstream.

“Even still, there’s a strong tendency for non-aboriginal filmmakers to make films for indigenous and First Nations people,” he says, “and there may be collaboration, but it’s still sort of speaking on their behalf, so promoting people using their own voices is important.”

Indigenous movies at The Vic
7 pm, September 27-29
The Vic Theatre, 808 Douglas Street
thevic.ca

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