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Indigenous Films and Filmmakers

Getting Started

"I’m very much impressed by the incredible range and diversity of Indigenous film and video makers’ voices. We come from so many different nations, so many different geographic places, but also so many different experiences of what it is to be indigenous. Some of us are rooted in the land that we come from, rooted in our languages, rooted in family and community. But just as many of us are not."

Christine Welsh, interviewed in "The Indigenous Voice," episode 1 of "Storytellers in Motion."  

Image Source: Clipart Pal

X̱wi7x̱wa Library houses, and is continually building, a collection of films which profile Indigenous BC writers, directors, and producers. The overall collection includes more than 1300 films, of which at least 600 are by Indigenous filmmakers. Many of them are not available at other libraries.

This guide contains:

  • Information on how to find books on Indigenous Films and Filmmakers
  • Information on Indigenous Filmmakers
  • Information on Film Festivals that feature Indigenous materials 
  • Resources for emerging Indigenous Filmmakers

Featured Indigenous Films

Bihttoš = Rebel (2014)

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers 

In a moving personal essay, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers examines her complex relationship to her Sámi father, starting with the story of how he met her Blackfoot mother. Their transatlantic romance was affected by his silent suffering; his estrangement had roots she could not grasp  painful wounds shared by many Sámi of his generation.

Ahoy! Métis! (2005)

Marnie Parrell

"In language spelling and meaning can change over time. When this happens the original intention or origins of a phrase can be lost. This film explores the possibility that "ahoy, matey!" was not a greeting but a warning cry that would chill the bones of even the most fierce privateer. Métis pirates of the Hudson Bay, a part of our heritage." (From the case).

Barking Water (2010)

Sterlin Harjo

Frankie, a proud Native American, is attempting to reconnect with his estranged family. Released from the hospital, but still very ill, he hits the road with his ex-lover Irene, who acts as Frankie's nurse but refuses to offer forgiveness for his past indiscretions. As they travel through the sun-dappled country, they encounter various eccentric personalities. But his journey really begins when he reunites with his daughter and finally meets her newborn child.

Tracing Roots (2014)

Ellen Frankenstein

"Tracing Roots is a portrait of an artist and a mystery. The film follows master weaver and Haida elder Delores Churchill on a journey to understand the origins of a spruce root hat found with Kwädąy Dän Ts'ìnchį, the Long Ago Person Found, a 300-year-old traveler discovered in Northern Canada in a retreating glacier. Delores's quest crosses cultures and borders, involving artists, scholars and scientists, raising questions about the meaning of connection, knowledge and ownership." (From the case).

Aboriginality (2008)

Dominique Keller

"Follow an urban youth as he heads down the mystical Red Road, where the sweet grass grows, to re-connect and be inspired by new and traditional elements of First Nations culture. Direct by Dominique Keller, Aboriginality fuses animation by Dan Gles with live-action dance directed by Tom Jackson. We meet world champion hoop dancer and hip-hop artist Dallas Arcand, a seventh generation memeber of the Alexander (Kipohtakaw) Plains Indian Cree nation. Arcand plays dual roles - as a positive First Nations presence in mainstream urban media and a touchstone to traditional roots and culture. Many believe the seventh generation will bring positive change to the world, and in Aboriginality, the power and spirit of culture sweep across time and space to empower the next generation." (From the case).

Cry Rock (2010)

Banchi Hanuse

"Less than fifteen Nuxalk language speakers and storytellers remain in Bella Coola, British Columbia, today. One of these elders is the director Banchi Hanuse's 80-year-old grandmother. In a technologically obsessed century, it would seem easier to record Nuxalk stories for future generations, but Hanuse resists. Instead, she asks whether an electronic recording can capture the true meaning and value of these oral traditions. More importantly, can it be considered cultural knowledge? [...] As Hanuse struggles with the decision, a spine tingling story about the Cry Rock in the bend of the Atnarko River, nestled in the Bella Coola Valley, is retold by Clyde Tallio, a young Nuxalk man." (From the case).

Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2014)

Jeff Barnaby

Red Crow Mi'gMaq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 18 must attend residential school. That means imprisonment at St. Dymphna's and being at the mercy of Popper, the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. She sells enough dope to pay Popper her truancy tax, keeping her out of St. D's. But when Aila's drug money is stolen and her father Joseph returns from prison, her only options are to run or fight.