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Film Winners Abound at Montreal First People’s Festival

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A lost Navajo sheepdog. An Amazonian Tribe, 15 years later. A Tlinlit entrepreneur.

These are just a few of the characters who have won their creators prizes in the Montreal First People’s Festival 2011, the organizers announced.

In Run Red Walk: A Navajo Sheepdog, Melissa Henry employed the “consummate art of storytelling inherited from her Navajo ancestors to follow a sheepdog looking for its lost flock in a “charming film” that tied for Best Short Subject.

The Rigoberta Menchu Grand Prize went to Denis Zmekhol for Children of the Amazon, which blended emotion and reason to depict the Surui and Negarote men and women who are fielding the “blind, destructive forces of the market economy,” the festival organizers said. The film was selected for Zmekhol’s “ability to find the spark of hope in people's eyes, refusing to lay down and die, a joyful, enchanted spark from childhood that still shines in adults' determined gaze, and for giving a brotherly and familiar face to the forest peoples.”

And the documentary depicting the “merry, incredible adventures of a Tlingit entrepreneur” who overcomes many obstacles as he brings to life “the epic art of being and remaining Amerindian in the 21st century” won Luke Griswold-Tergis and Cory Mann the Best Documentary award for Smokin' Fish.

Here are the other prizes.

Nanameshkueu (Earthquake), Réal Junior Leblanc, winner of the Jeunesse Mainfilm prize. A short film by a young Innu from Uashat-Maliotenam.

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Nodin, Télé-Québec New Talent prize. “A stripped-down approach showcasing the beauty of the Anishnabe language,” filmed by a young Algonquin, Nodin Wawatie.

Déboires, Best Animated Film. Delia Gunn uses animation techniques in a “lively, playful and innovative” fashion “to tell an inspiring tale of healing from a very personal standpoint.”

Day Trip, tied for Best Short Subject. Zoe McIntosh makes a silent film that festival organizers call “a model of cinematographic purity” for its ability to render a Maori street-gang member appealing, almost lovable.

Flores en el Desierto, Best Cinematrography prize. Pedro Gonzalez Rubio and Fernanda Romandia follow Wirrakika pilgrims on a quest for peyote in Mexico.

Qapirangajuq: Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, Rigoberta Menchu Second Prize. Zacharias Kunuk and Ian Mauro’s documentary showing the links between animals, humans and climate change, “and setting the stage for a stimulating dialogue between Inuit tradition and contemporary scientific knowledge.”

File Under Miscellaneous, tied for Teuikan Grand Prize. Jeff Barnaby applies “a poetic but literal approach” to the notion of molting and emerging with a new skin, undertaking “an artistic endeavour culminating in a black allegory that speaks to our relationship with identity in a more and more uniform society where all differences are painful and stigmatized.”

Silvestre Pantaleon, tied for Teuikan Grand Prize. Roberto Olivares’s documentary depicting the story of a Najua man who serves as priest and healer, who “endlessly returns to the daily motions of working life so the world can continue to be a world, so the place that the ancestral language occupies in a film ever attentive to the singularity of beings and things.”

The festival ran from August 2 through 9 and featured art exhibits, dancing and music.