June 14, 2023 – NELSON, BC | Inspired by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond’s entertaining and insightful look at the portrayal of North American Indigenous people throughout a century of cinema in his 2009 documentary, Reel Injun, the STOODIS Film Festival is at once a retrospective and a showcase of recent work of Indigenous made narrative shorts and features.
In partnership with the Vancouver International Film Festival, we are pleased to present a program including seminal works from the beginning of what Ojibwe broadcaster, curator, producer, activist, and public speaker Jesse Wente terms “the Renaissance of Native Cinema,” while also celebrating the growth and recognition of Indigenous-made narrative cinema today.
There has been a long history of films depicting Indigenous people and stories. From John Wayne to Dances with Wolves, our perspectives of Indigenous people and ourselves have been shaped in part through the film industry’s "Colonial Gaze" leaving us blind to the rich truth of Indigenous narratives, and how they shape the understanding of living with the land and each other. In the words of Thomas King, "The truth about stories, is that's all we are." The stories we tell matter, because they shape the ways we view the world and each other, and ourselves.
Today, as we come together, we reflect on the past to lead us to a brighter future. We come together to celebrate Indigenous cinematography, and to celebrate Indigenous Futurism.
Festival organizer Lesley Garlow (Haudenosaunee, Cayuga, Turtle Clan) offers thoughtful context for this event:
“As a displaced Indigenous youth growing in the Columbia Basin, I often felt that there wasn't much here that spoke to me about aspects of hope for the future. Often the stories I heard were of disease and loss, and extinction.
“I imagine this film festival is a great way to bring stories of hope, resurgence, and visions of what Indigenous futurism can look like. No longer are we the dying races needing to be captured on film before we die out. We are the tellers of our own stories, the imaginers of our own futures, we are our ancestors wildest dreams.
“With STOODIS, I wanted to bring context and possibilities to the general community as well as to the Indigenous youth who like me, grow up here, longing for possibilities that celebrate our diversity and potential for great things. This film festival is for you.”
2023 SUPER-8 FILM CHALLENGE
Adjacent to STOODIS is the 2023 Super-8 Film Challenge, a long-standing NCTS program for youth to experience making analog, one-shot films. Youth will be guided through conversations about strength, resilience, and Indigenous futurism, learning about Indigenous narrative and contemporary Indigenous storytelling. June 21 and 22, participants will explore examples of local, national and international Indigenous film writers, storytellers, actors, musicians and the history and evolution of Indigenous film. Finally, they will learn how to create an in-camera edited, silent black-and-white film on a Super-8 camera and process their films with a safe, homemade “Caffenol-C” recipe.
PROGRAMMING CALENDAR FOR STOODIS
All film events will begin at the following times, but will open with a short film and a positioning conversation hosted by Lesley Garlow, award-winning filmmaker, speaker and hiphop artist James Pakootas, and NCTS Programming Director Jason Asbell, along with other guests.
Additional reprise screenings of several of these feature films will also be scheduled at The Shoebox Theatre over the course of the STOODIS dates.
Fri. June 23, 2023
7:00 pm - Bones of Crows (126min)
Marie Clements’ Bones of Crows is a powerful indictment of the abuse of Indigenous peoples and a stirring story of extraordinary resilience and resistance.Born in the 1920s into a happy, large family, Aline Spears (played at different ages by Summer Testawich, Grace Dove, and Carla Rae) and her siblings are forcibly removed — through threat and essentially extortion by church and local authorities — from their home and sent to residential schools. There, they are victims of the cruelty of the priests and nuns who run the school. As the film clearly and dramatically points out, this psychological, physical, and cultural abuse was basically official government policy. During World War II, Aline enlists in the military, where, in a great but not widely known historical irony, her contribution is highly valued precisely because she is still fluent in Cree — one of the languages the residential schools strove to eradicate. After the war, Aline returns to Canada to raise her children. Still haunted by the crimes committed against her, she endures years of anguish before she finally has the chance to confront her abusers. The cast boasts talented newcomers and an all-star collection of established Indigenous actors, among them Glen Gould, Michelle Thrush, Gail Maurice (whose directorial debut feature, Rosie, is at TIFF this year), Cara Gee, Joshua Odjick (a TIFF Rising Star this year), Paulina Alexis, and in one of the most welcome cameos this year, legendary filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin.Fearless in its denunciation of centuries of oppressive policies by Canadian governments and institutions, Bones of Crows is also a memorable paean to the resilience and determination of those who survived the residential schools — and especially those, like Aline, who sought to bring their oppressors’ crimes to light. Synopsis by Steve Gravestock
Sat. June 24, 2023
5:00 pm - Reel Injun (86min)
In this feature-length documentary, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond takes an entertaining and insightful look at the portrayal of North American Indigenous people throughout a century of cinema. Featuring hundreds of clips from old classics as well as recent releases, the film traces the evolution of the “Hollywood Indian.” Diamond guides the audience on a journey across America to some of cinema’s most iconic landscapes and conducts candid interviews with celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Robbie Robertson and Jim Jarmusch. The film is a loving look at cinema through the eyes of the people who appeared in its very first flickering images and have survived to tell their stories in their own way.
7:30pm - Slash/Back (86min)
The debut feature from Iqaluit-raised director Nyla Innuksuk, Slash/Back packs a vivid and thrilling punch, as a girl gang in Pangnirtung, Nunavut is left to fight off a supernatural apocalypse. Employing strategies from their favourite horror movies, weapons from their kitchens, and power from their friends, the girls must battle a mysterious alien force to save their home. Slash/Back presents a promising young cast and a vibrant portrait of resilience, friendship, and what it means to fight for community. Join their journey of rebellion, self-discovery, and bad-bitchery! Synopsis by Julia Yoo
Sun. June 25
1:00 pm - 1-Day Super-8 Youth Film Challenge + ImagiNative Shorts program (100min)
This program features six single-day, shot, hand-processed and presented local Indigenous youth made analogue Super-8 films, plus a dynamic selection of six short films by Indigenous filmmakers, all of which were presented at the 2022 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. This short film program reflects on the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next and honouring where you and your ancestors have come from.
4:00 pm - Bones of Crows
7:00 pm - Stellar (89min)
A dreamy love story between She, played by Night Raiders lead Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, and the up-and-coming actor Braeden Clarke, takes place in the unexpected haven of a Northern Ontario dive bar while natural disasters unfold. The experimental film Stellar is the fourth feature from Anishinaabe director and producer Darlene Naponse, based on her short story of the same name. Veering away from her past work (including Falls Around Her, a TIFF ’18 selection starring Tantoo Cardinal), here Naponse intersperses the flirtation between She and He with a meteorite dropping down outside the bar, creating multiple extreme environmental crises seen only through the giant front window. Inside the bar, She and He are untouched by massive wildfires, flooding, and more happening outside — but their connection to the land isn’t questioned, because every major movement they make cuts to beautiful shots of land and water that are alternately lush and peaceful or extractive and unnatural. Stellar’s characters speak in poetic spurts as they relate different stories about themselves and where they’re from. Eclectic visitors pop into the bar. Some of them are treated as interlopers giving unwanted advice and help. Others, like Cree actor Tina Keeper and Cree actor and writer Billy Merasty, are welcomed as family. Focusing on touch, connection to one another, and the land, with nods to the context in which Indigenous people have endured and flourished, Stellar is a contemporary Indigenous romance unlike any other. Synopsis by Kelly Boutsalis
Mon. June 26, 2023
5:00 pm - Wildhood (108min)
Two-spirit Mi’kmaw teenager Link (Phillip Lewitski) is just discovering—and asserting—his sexuality when his already volatile home life goes off the rails. His abusive father explodes after the cops bust Link and his half-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) for stealing scrap metal. When he finds out that his supposedly dead mother may be alive, Link flees with Travis in tow. Sparks fly in a chance encounter with teen drifter Pasmay (Joshua Odjick), who shares Link’s Indigenous roots and offers to help find his mother — but will Link’s (well-founded) mistrust of people ruin his potential new relationship and the group’s mission? Riffing on the road-movie genre, director Bretten Hannam charts Link’s growing self-awareness, which is deeply connected to the (re)discovery of his heritage. It’s been a while since a movie has fully relished in the bucolic Eastern Canada countryside. The landscape (Annapolis Valley in traditional Mi’kmaq territory) offers succour to Link and Travis — and opens them up to a very different world. Wildhood will elicit comparisons to recent Canadian titles like Firecrackers and Sleeping Giant, but the protagonists in those films were constrained by their age and limited choices. While Link and Travis aren’t free from danger, heartbreak, or disappointment, their lives are increasingly defined by possibility. Wildhood is an accomplished film driven by Hannam’s direction and writing, fine craft (cinematographer Guy Godfree stands out especially), skilled veterans like Michael Greyeyes (in a brief but pivotal role), and some amazing young performers — and its equation of the road with the possibility of freedom couldn’t have come at a better time. Synopsis by Steve Gravestock
7:30pm - Night Raiders (101min)
With several groundbreaking short films behind her, Danis Goulet makes her feature debut with one of the most important Canadian films in recent memory. A searing thriller set in the near future, Night Raiders digs deep into Canada’s painful past to craft a compelling, propulsive piece of genre cinema. After a destructive war across North America, a military occupation seizes control of society. One of their core tactics: taking children from their families and putting them into State Academies, or forced-education camps. Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) is a Cree mother desperate to protect her daughter Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart). But events force mother and daughter to separate, leading Niska to join a group of Cree vigilantes to get her daughter back. If this story echoes the real forced assimilation of Indigenous children that colonising powers undertook in Canada, the US, Australia, and beyond, that’s no coincidence. Goulet is Cree-Métis from northern Saskatchewan. With Night Raiders, she transforms the ugly reality of residential schools into remarkable, cinematic world building. The production design, cinematography, and visual effects all contribute to a full immersion in a powerful, fictional world. But Goulet’s vision, combined with powerful performances from Tailfeathers, Letexier-Hart, and Gail Maurice, bring this speculative future into dialogue with our past. Night Raiders is not just a singular Canadian film, but a new view of Canada for the whole world.
Tues. June 27, 2023
5:00 pm - Rosie (92min) + Otepmisiwak (30min)
Métis writer-director-actor Gail Maurice’s feature film debut tells the story of a suddenly orphaned Indigenous girl and her newly chosen family in Montreal in the 1980s.Rosie (Keris Hope Hill) is a visibly Indigenous, English-speaking, sweet, and headstrong little girl and her mother has just died. A children’s services agent brings her to her only living relative, her Francophone aunt Frédèrique (Mélanie Bray). “Fred” doesn’t have a solid foundation on which to raise a child. She is unprepared — she’s working at an adult entertainment shop and threatened with eviction — and is at first unwilling to take on caring for her adopted sister’s young daughter.
From images of people working on the street to a scene involving sleeping rough in a car in a junkyard, ROSIE captures an uncomfortable reality understood through innocent eyes. Seeing things from the girl’s viewpoint explains why Fred’s gender-bending friends — from the Cree perspective of being genderless — Flo (Constant Bernard) and Mo (Alex Trahan) appear in various forms of drag, and why the night in the car is seen as a fun camping experience. The film focuses on characters living on the fringes of society, including a homeless Cree man (Brandon Oakes), and how united and transformed they become through the eponymous character’s vibrant presence. Touching on the Sixties Scoop and disconnection from Indigenous identity, ROSIE is an ode to finding your chosen family when your blood relations have been removed from the picture. Synopsis by Kelly Boutsalis
8:00 pm - Blood Quantum (96min)
Jeff Barnaby, who passed away at the young age of 46 last year, leaves a legacy and impact on audiences and the industry that will permanently resonate. The Mi’kmaq filmmaker turned expectations of Indigenous and Canadian/Quebec filmmaking upside down and brazenly forged an explosive oeuvre ripe with ferocious action, references, and characters, as well as forthright commentary. With Blood Quantum, Barnaby presents the colonialist concept of Indigenous blood calculation and identity and performs a revenge of the very notion. When a brazen virus takes over the white population and turns them into blood-thirsty zombies, the nearby Mi’kmaq reserve residents of Red Crow find themselves immune and in need of remaining on their own in order to survive. Blood Quantum is thought-through bloody madness and an astonishing vessel of ideas in what turns out to simultaneously be big entertainment. Synopsis by Magali Simard
Lesley Garlow is a member of the Haudenosaunee Nation, Cayuga Tribe, Turtle Clan, from Osweken, Six Nations Brantford Reserve, ON through her mother Darlene Rose Garlow, and her grandmother Elenore Ellen Silversmith, and all her mothers before. She is of mixed ancestry as her father also gifts her with Mohawk Wolf Clan and Italian/Irish heritage. Lesley’s family moved from Ontario in 1990 before the OKA crisis, to rural BC where she has liived as a displaced, visibly Indigenous female in the Unceded territories of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa and Sinixt, known as the Columbia plateau and Basin most of her life. Lesley is a granddaughter, a daughter, an auntie, and a sister as well as a proud mother of three aged 22, 19 and 3.5.
Lesley classifies herself as an AntiColonial, Emancipatory Social Worker. Through her work with youth and in collaboration with School District 20, she has used popular culture and concepts linked to Indigenous futurism to normalize Indigenous presence and celebrate contemporary Indigenous culture, achievements, and dreams for the future. She also works with the dedicated and talented team at the Nelson Museum, Archives and Gallery to identify and contextualize nuanced elements in settler colonial narrative and broadening our understanding of place and connection to all our Relations. She is focused on elevating and activating Indigenous perspectives regarding Truth And Reconciliation/ReconciliACTION across all aspects of Institutional practice by utilizing collaborative concepts of good relationship building and protocol, while striving to dig deeper and ask more of ourselves, and in regards to equity, social justice and inclusion. Lesley is currently a mature student in my final year of her bachelor degree with UVIC, BSWI programme with the Faculty of Human and Social Development.
James Pakootas is a modern-day story weaver. He is an award-winning vocalist, producer, and filmmaker who cultivates change in the world through the power of words. A member of The Colville Confederated Tribes, James comes from people whose future, present and past are expressed through art, song, and movement. As a vocalist who creates conscious hip hop and spoken word poetry, he carries on this tradition. James tells stories - stories that empower, stories that fascinate, and stories that speak truth to our existence. The core of his content speaks to the resilience of the human spirit, a deep understanding of trauma, and connection; the never-ending pathway back to ourselves. Whether performing with his artist collective, creating new bodies of work in music and film, or mentoring teams of multi-generational artists, James influences people to rise above their circumstances and chase dreams worth living. James has appeared at the Summer Concert Series with The Levitt Foundation, The New Mexico Jazz Festival, and at many famous music venues, including The Eisenhower Theater at The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in NYC, The New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and The National Museum of Jazz in Harlem. A trained percussionist from the age of 8, he effortlessly adapts to create intricate cadences and rhyme schemes through Hip Hop. He is a 2019 Native American Music Award Winner, and 2X Nominee. He’s also received multiple awards and fellowships through First Peoples Fund, Artist Trust, Western Arts Alliance, and Spokane Arts. Pakootas has performed or collaborated with Joy Harjo, Pura Fe, Jellybean Johnson, Charly Lowry, Kalliah Jackson, Mali Obomsawim, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Maura Garcia, Maiah Wynne, and Delbert Anderson.
Jason Asbell (Programming Director, NCTS) brings a wealth of experience to NCTS from film production, presentation and youth film education. Many NCTS signature programs are concepts developed by Jason, such as the Super-8 Youth Film Challenge, the Craft Brews of the Columbia Basin Film Competition, and much, much more. He has worked for The Pacific Cinematheque as a projectionist for its and the Vancouver International Film Festival's programming, and has worked as an equipment and media library tech for Vancouver Film School and Capilano University. Jason has been also instructor/mentor for the Senior Director's seat (14-18 year olds) of Watershed's summer film production camps. A graduate of the Simon Fraser University film program, Jason has had his experimental work screened internationally in film festivals.
ABOUT NELSON CIVIC THEATRE SOCIETY (NCTS)
Nelson Civic Theatre Society (NCTS) was founded in 2012 when more than 4,000 citizens signed a petition to have The Civic Theatre reopened, with a commitment to rehabilitate the derelict space and install digital equipment. The Civic Theatre opened in 1935 as a live performance venue within Nelson's Civic Centre, but quickly became our community's film centre, screening movies on the big screen for 75 years until its untimely closure in September 2010.
We are the sole tenant and operator of The Civic Theatre, and manage this facility as a cultural media arts centre. As a registered Canadian charity, through film and art, we help to shape the culture of our region with thought-provoking conversations and diverse storytelling, because, at the end of the day, connection is forged through shared experiences. That’s why we exist; to entertain, enlighten, and spark our imaginations.
Today, NCTS is a cinema-primary cultural connector and charitable organization that brings great ideas to our community and puts great ideas out into the world. We are as passionate about film as we are about our community, and strive to facilitate thoughtful and meaningful dialogue through art. Through our original location at The Civic Theatre as well as our second space, 225 Hall Street (home of Reo’s Video and The Shoebox Theatre), our programs and the films we show reflect the vibrancy and passion of the people of Nelson, making us a home for everyone in our city and the greater Kootenay region. In an era where people often feel increasingly isolated, we are honoured to provide spaces where we can have both fun and often profound cultural experiences together and feel connected.
NCTS is grateful to our funders and sponsors for the STOODIS Indigenous Film Festival, including the Province of BC, the Vancouver International Film Festival, Nelson Kootenay Lake Tourism, the Adventure Hotel, the Sterling Hotel, Cover Architectural Collaborative, Kootenay Dental Arts, and Columbia Basin Trust.