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Inuit-themed Short Screens at Toronto Film Festival

The Toronto International Film Festival 2011 runs from September 8 through 18 and features some aboriginal films
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An Inuit woman escaping abuse, an indigenous-descended Hawaiian family coming to grips with its secrets, and a First Nations–perspective analysis of the 1939 classic Stagecoach are some of the indigenous-themed offerings at the Toronto Film Fest, which starts on September 8 and runs through the 18th.

Throat Song tells the story of Ippik, a young Inuk woman who, extracting herself from an abusive relationship, finds her voice.

"The stark beauty and isolation of the Arctic is captured in vivid detail, set against restrained yet raw performances that convey the burden of suffering and the strength to move forward," the festival description says. Toronto-born Miranda de Pencier makes her directorial debut with this short.

The feature film The Descendants, directed by Alexander Payne (of Sideways and About Schmidt fame) and starring George Clooney, details the trials of a Hawaiian family with indigenous ancestry.

Steve Loft, a Mohawk-Jewish writer, curator and artist, served as the curator-in-residence of indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. At the festival his First Nations–oriented look at the iconic Stagecoach will put a new spin on the spin on Geronimo.

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Other indigenous films will be in evidence as well, from around the world.

The six-minute Spirit of the Bluebird is virtually a visual elegy to Gloria Black Plume, a Native elder murdered in Calgary in 1999. Xstine Cook and Cree artist Jesse Gouchey transform an urban alley garage wall and fence into "a magnificent animated mural of a bluebird’s flight over an open prairie," the festival description says. "Plume’s spirit resonates through the bluebird’s solo journey and her loving family’s heartfelt remembrances."

Toronto Film Festival literature calls Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale a historic event.

"A sweeping epic about the valiant resistance of the island’s indigenous people against imperial Japanese forces, the film marks a major leap forward for the already accomplished Wei Te-Sheng," the site says. It "tells the story of the Seediq people, shedding light on their struggle to preserve their land and way of life" as the island is occupied by the Japanese starting in 1895.

From the South Pacific lands, the Australian documentary The Tall Man examines the death of Cameron Doomadgee in a jail cell, where he'd been thrown for allegedly swearing at an officer. It is Australian filmmaker Tony Krawitz's first documentary.

Rounding out the aboriginal offerings will be a retrospective of works by African filmmaker Ousmane Sembène, who is thought to be the father of indigenous cinema.