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From this past week’s New York Times “Cooking,” a blog with recipes: “Now, it’s nothing whatsoever to do with preparing shirred eggs or chicken fra diavolo, but you really should be watching ‘Reservation Dogs’ on Hulu.” 


September 15 – October 15

Crossing Borders

Background: National Hispanic Heritage Month in the US was designed to celebrate heritage rooted in all Latin American countries. It begins in the middle of September, because of the significance September 15 holds in Latin American history — being the Independence Day of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The five Central American nations declared their independence from Spain together on September 15, 1821. The next two days--September 16 and September 18--are also important, being the Independence Days of Mexico and Chile, respectively. Both became free from Spanish rule in 1810 at the height of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). (Another nation on the American continent, Belize, became independent from Great Britain on September 21, 1981.)

The Pew Research Center published its National Survey of Latinos in 2014, updated in 2019. With a population of over 60.6 million, Hispanic Americans are the largest minority group in the US, making up a fifth of the total US population. More than half are of Mexican origin (37 million people), followed by Puerto Rican (5.8 million), and about one million people each of Salvadorans, Cubans, Dominicans, Guatemalans and Colombians, collectively referred to as Hispanic, Latino or Latinx. Back in 1988 when the President signed into existence a national heritage month, it was viewed as a step toward visibility, named after the new shared label, Hispanic, that had come into use to refer to Spanish and Latin American descendants living in the United States. 

BUT, and these are big: 

But what about Indigenous peoples in the US from these “Hispanic” countries? The Pew Report found that one-in-four (25 percent) of Latino adults say they consider themselves Indigenous or Native American, such as Maya, Nahua, Taino, Quiche, Aymara or Quechua, among others. And the

86.5 percent increase in the 2020 US Census of people in the US who self-identify as Native American or Alaska Native or of mixed heritage reflects responses from people of Indigenous backgrounds in Latin America, adopting the language of the Census for Indigenous: “Native American.”

And what about the fact that the southern border of the US crosses directly through Indigenous homelands—think Tohono O’odham, Kumeyaay?

Why the Jump in the Native American Population May be One of the Hardest to Explain by Nicole Chavez and Harmeet Kaur for CNN, August 19, 2021.

“When Wen Calm filled out her Census form last year, she checked the box for Native American and the box for Latino. The 27-year-old is from Todos Santos Cuchumatán, a small village in the western highlands of Guatemala where most residents are Indigenous (see Archives below). ‘We are not White, we are not Black, this is the closest I can get,’ said Calm, who lives in Oakland, California. ‘I put Native American because we are Indigenous from the Americas, but a lot of people still have a lot of confusion as what to choose.’ Calm is among the 2.9 million people in 2020 who said they were American Indian and Alaska Native, either alone and in combination with another race, and who also noted their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino, according to the Census Bureau.

“…. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB), the agency that dictates the standards for collecting data on race and ethnicity in the US, defines ‘American Indian or Alaska Native’ as ‘a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America), and who maintains tribal affiliation or community attachment.’"

Does Hispanic Heritage Month Need a Rebrand?” by Isabelia Herrera, New York Times, First published September 14. 2019, updated June 17, 2021.

“Many of us bristle at the persistence of the term ‘Hispanic,’ given its connection to Spain and colonization. Those with African and indigenous roots often feel left out of conversations and celebrations under that label.” 

The number of Indigenous films to be seen as part of this 2021 Heritage Month is quite small. Titles included here, online or on-screen, focus on border crossing, on leaving and return between Indigenous village community and the city, and on complex contemporary Indigenous identity. A strong metaphor is in use—the migration and return of butterflies, species based in far-flung places that each are home. 

Watch Now: DCEFF Online

Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital

Border Nation 
Documentary short

US. Jason Jaacks. Today, Tohono O’odham tribal members live on both sides of the US/Mexican border. But with an increasingly militarized border, can their traditional way of life survive?

The Guardians
Documentary feature

US. Ben Crosbie, Tessa Moran. Interweaves the story of the threatened monarch butterfly with the life of a Purhepecha community whose ancestral lands are now part of Mexico’s protected Monarch Butterfly Biosphere in Michoacán, and who are fighting to restore and save from illegal lumbering and opposition the forest of towering oyamels that’s been nearly destroyed.

Pacha Kuti: The Golden Path
Documentary short

US. Reed Rickert. When Arnold returns to his native community in the Peruvian Amazon after living in the urban world, he remembers the stories told to him by his grandfather and the importance of maintaining balance with the jungle.

POV Online

Originally aired on PBS August 30, 2021. Expires online on October 28, 2021.

The Song of the Butterflies
Feature documentary. Peru.

Remember Yahuarcani is an Indigenous painter of the Uitoto Nation in Peru. He left to pursue a successful career in Lima, but when he finds himself in a creative rut, he returns home to his Amazonian community to visit his father, a painter, and his mother, a sculptor, and discovers why the stories of his ancestors cannot be forgotten. Through the stories and dreams of his parents and his grandmother, he confronts the horrors his community faced as a result of the rubber boom in Peru, immersing himself in the past so that he can rediscover his own creativity. Aco-presentation of Latino Public Broadcasting and Vision Maker Media, and with Cinema Tropical. (a cinema term for “point of view”) is US public television’s longest-running showcase for Independent nonfiction films, premiering 14-16 outstanding programs every year on PBS.

Hola Mexico Film Festival (in-person)

Los Angeles
September 11 – September 20

Son of Monarchs Narrative feature. Mexico/US. Alexis Gambis. Enchanted since a child by the monarch butterflies who migrate from and return to their forests in Michoacán, Mexico, Mendel (Tenoch Huerta) dedicates his career as a scientist in New York to mapping out the monarch’s genetics. He is haunted by flashbacks of being orphaned alongside his older brother, Simon, when their parents died in a flood. When Mendel travels home to attend the funeral of his grandmother, it's clear his story is also one of migration and memory, of transformation and ancestral ties. Winner of the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize at Sundance Film Festival.

“’It’s Time to Raise our Voice’ - Mexican Actors Condemn Racism by Christine Murray for Reuters, 6/11/2020. 

Featured in the film Son of Monarchs (“…Tenoch Huerta delivers a soul-searing performance in this transformative drama…”), actor Tenoch Huerta Mejia (Purhepecha) has been outspoken about the development of greater opportunity for Indigenous actors in Mexico. He has starred in both feature films and short works, and is featured in Monica Maristain’s book 30 Actors Made in Mexico

From the Archives

WorldCat is an enormous catalog of films available through university and public libraries.

Olivia Carrescia’s Guatemalan Trilogy, 1980s – 1990s
Works from 1980s-90s by independent documentary filmmaker Olivia Carrescia reflect her long-term commitment to following the lives of people in the Guatemalan Mayan community of Todos Santos Cuchumatán--as Indigenous laborers on coffee fincas, as affected by the civil war in the 1980s that was deadly to Mayan communities, and as immigrant refugees in Florida.

Todos Santos Cuchumatán. An intimate look at everyday life in Todos Santos, a Mam speaking Indigenous village in Guatemala's highlands, before the violence of the 1980s. 

Todos Santos: The Survivors. Demonstrates how the political turmoil of the 1980s affected the once quite Guatemalan village. 

Mayan Voices, American Lives. Contrasts the experiences of Mayan families who came to Indiantown, Florida, as refugees fleeing the violence, with the struggles of those continuing to arrive in search of better lives. 


Film Festivals and media organizations continue to offer Indigenous programs online, and there is an increase in both hybrid festivals and completely in-person ones. As this change happens, Film Festivals Online+ will be inclusive, but still focuses on online access to Indigenous film and media, including festivals and filmmaker conversations and other Indigenous cultural events streaming.

Usually online festivals and screenings stream film programs only on the given dates. They may include films that are geo-blocked to specific countries or states/provinces. But some films and most online artist and filmmaker conversations remain available internationally on websites and on platforms like YouTube and Facebook after their original presentation.

10th Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival

Online internationally. Limited in-person Ottawa, Ontario
September 15 – September 19

This festival in Canada’s capital city is mainly virtual this year and (with a few titles as exceptions) the programs, which consist of multiple films of varying lengths, are streaming internationally. Each program screens for 48 hours, starting at 12:00 Noon EDT on the date posted. Several programs are streaming on each date and one ticket for that date gives access to all of the day’s online screenings.

Trailers for most of the films and ticket purchases are available on the website. Tickets are purchased ahead of time and a link will be sent for viewing the films. The links are accessible for the scheduled 48 hour period, and tickets are on sale up until 2 hours before the link is terminated. The ticket cost is $10 Canadian plus fees for each day (each program is 50-120 min. long). 


>>> Wednesday, Sept 15 <<<
All three programs stream starting 12 Noon today for 48 hours 


Narrative feature. US. 

Christopher Marshall (Muscogee Creek). Producer: Taylor Haynes (Cherokee) Cast: Carol Redwing (Yankton Sioux), Lovejoy Brown (Omaha). Gwendolyn and McKenzie were always inseparable, until college and life events stood in the way. When the two reconvene back home, they face their past and begin to rebuild the trust they once had. For Opening Night: Ramblin’ is also being screened outdoors at 6:00 with live music. Free, donation suggested.

Kinship: Dramatic Shorts
Six short films from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Canada, Guatemala, Peru (this one is geoblocked to Canada), and the US evoke an allegorical journey of a father and son, reconnections to culture, modern takes on traditional stories, all while reflecting on relationships of mothers and fathers to their children, and the teachings of grandparents.

One of the works is Lonely Boy dir. Jennifer Podemski (Anishnaabe, Ashkenazi-Jewish) Reflecting on the challenges of quarantine, a fictional story tells about the resilience that comes from the profound bond of a mother and son. Other filmmakers are Miguel Ajcot, Ginew Benton (Ojibwe), Francesca Canepa, Kayla Hamilton (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairoa, Ngāti Porou), and Luke Hunt. 

Bawaadan Collective Shorts: Mâmawi Nikamowak

“Formalized in the Spring of 2019, the Bawaadan Collective quickly began to self-produce our own Indigenous content; modern, contemporary content. As the scale and scope of each project grew, we have continued to explore and expand our membership to incorporate new skills and relationships. Each new member has been an asset to each of the projects and works to support our future work. We envision a group of like-minded Indigenous artisans and accomplices who seek to continually develop our collaborative approaches to modern artistic, storytelling and film production processes.”

Mâmawi Nikamowak is a one-hour Web Series produced by Bawaadan Collective throughout 2020 and 2021--21 artists and 25 short films. The works being presented at Asinabka Festival are a selection of shorts from this larger collection. 

>>> Thursday, September 16 <<<
All three programs stream starting 12 Noon today for 48 hours.

Roots: Animated Shorts
Six short animations based in Canada, Mongolia and Peru portray cultural resilience in tales of ancient beliefs and practices and Indigenous wisdom, of Arctic survival in the face of global warming, of relationships to the land, and of support to defeat inner demons.

One of the award-winning animations is Bidabaan dir. Amanda Strong (Michif) Accompanied by a 10,000-year-old shapeshifter and friend known as Sabe, Biidaaban sets out on a mission to reclaim the ceremonial harvesting of sap from maple trees in an unwelcoming suburban neighborhood in Ontario. Other filmmakers are Mostafa Keshvari, Audrey Rainville, René Rodriguez (Bora), Christian Ryan and Alisi Telengut (Canadian-Mongolian).

Changing Worlds: Shorts
Seven short films from Canada explore pressures of contemporary life—the Covid crisis, Indigenous language continuation, Indigenous humor and resiliency, and a music video that sheds light on a difficult topic. One of the shorts is Inuit Languages in the 21st Century dir. Ulivia Uviluk (Inuit) which explores what’s accessible via the Internet in relation to the complex, dialect-rich language of Inuktitut.

Other filmmakers are Jack Belhumeur (Métis), Steven Thomas Davies (Snuneymuxw/European-Canadian), Cliff Hokanson & RoseAnna Schick, Amanda Kindzierski (Polish/Ukrainian, Ojibwe/Metis), Christian Ryan, and Jarret Twoyoungmen (Stoney).

Games and Rain: Two Docs
In Missionaries of the Rain dir. Jimena Paz a group of farmers in the central highlands of Mexico keep the tradition of rain petition rituals, assuming the mission to care for their sacred sites in order to harmonize climatic balance. In Ãjãí: The Headball Game of the Myky and Manoki dirs. Typju Myky and Andre Lopes (Myky). In the remote northwest area of Brazil’s Mato Grosso state, young Myky decide to film for the first time a traditional game—played using the head only--but the chiefs find some challenges ahead. 

>>> Friday, September 17 <<<
All three programs stream starting at 12 Noon today for 48 hours.

Femme Bodies
Seven short films from Canada focus on reconnecting with oneself, traditional dancers honoring Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, love and family in different stories about two-spirit and queer lives, and issues of identity for Indigenous and Métis people living in two worlds. Outdoor Screening: This program is also outdoors at 6:00, accompanying the opening of the “Voices of Chief’s Point” exhibition at Gallery 101.

One award-winning doc is êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines dir. Theola Ross (Cree) The filmmaker and her white partner document their pregnancy and journey into parenthood. Other filmmakers are Erica Daniels (Cree/Ojibwe), Mostafa Keshvari (Persian/Canadian), Chanelle Lajoie (Métis), Nicolas Renaud (Huron-Wendat), Patrick Shannon (Haida), Kijâtai-Alexandra Veillette-Cheezo (Anishnaabe), Jamie Kalama Wood (Native Hawaiian, Mexican, European).

Portraits: Short Docs
Eight wide-ranging films from Aotearoa/New Zealand, Canada, Peru and the US are portraits of elders, of people who have left their Indigenous communities, of others who are navigating a return, of honoring traditional arts in contemporary ways, and of a young boy on the autism spectrum.

Filmmakers are Patrick Boivin (Atikamekw), Cristina Kotz Cornejo (Huarpe), Valeriya Golovina (Ukrainian), Siwar Peralta Huamán (Quechua), Leigh Joseph (Sḵwxw̱ú7mesh) and Trevor Dixon Bennett, Livia Silvano Pacaya, Aaron Sinclair, and Kaela Waldstein.

Not Monsters: Strange, Comedic and Experimental Shorts
Eleven short films in various modes from Canada, Guatemala, Norway, Peru, and US reflect on addressing youthful memories, confronting surreal demons and exploring helpful spirit guides, the healing power of the traditional Peruvian hallucinogen ayahuasca, and the mood of empty places where violence once occurred.

The filmmakers are Jack Belhumeur (Métis), Nathaniel Cummings-Lambert (Eastern Band Cherokee), Pedro Favaron, Damien Ferland, Edgar R. Hernandez (Maya), Lindsay McIntyre (Inuit, Scottish), Charlene Moore (Cree, Saulteaux, Welsh), Egil Pederson (Sami), Dianne Ouellette (Métis), and Jerry Wolf (Waywayseecappo First Nations/Vietnamese) 

>>> Saturday, September 18 <<<
All three programs stream starting at 12 Noon today for 48 hours.

Miijim: Indigenous Foods
Three documentaries from Canada and one from India. Pas d’Banique dir. Alfred McKenzie (Innu) In his shaputuan the filmmaker shows the stages of preparing banique. Gespe’gewa’gi: The Last Land dir. Ernest Webb (Cree), Greg Lawrence An episode of a 13-part series about the Mi’kmaq men and women of Listugui, Quebec, a community that has established its fishing industry against sometimes violent opposition.

Utsuk - A Story of Fat
Vincent Boulet, Blaise Carrier Chouinard. The connection of Inuit and their health to the foods harvested from land and sea. The Lost Art of Seasoning dir. Abo Arangham. In the filmmaker’s small tribe in Arunachat Pradesh in northeastern India, young people persuade the last traditional saltmakers to revive the process.

Displacement and Resistance
Four documentaries from Brazil, Canada and the US. The Village Resists dir. David Bert Joris Jhert The Indigenous community living next to the stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the World Cup and Olympic Games are to take place faces rising pressure, and resists. Sardis dir. Colleen Thurston (Choctaw) A cemetery island in a man-made lake is the last relic of what was once the town of Sardis, Oklahoma. Valley of the Southern North dir. Byron M. Dueck In British Columbia’s Peace Valley, the Site C Dam now under construction will destroy ancestral territory of the Dene Zaa and Cree, violating treaties and displacing residents, farmers and wildlife. Indian Alley dir. Pamela J. Peters (Navajo) In Downtown Los Angeles six Native American artists share the stories of their now-iconic murals. Voices from the Barrens: Native People, Blueberries and Sovereignty dir. Nancy Ghertner. Canadian unit dir: Brian J. Francis (Mi’kmaq) The wild blueberry harvest brings Wabanaki peoples from Canada and US together in Maine, and traditional methods meet new ones. The Keepers of Corn/Los Guardianes del Maiz dir. Gustavo Vazquez Indigenous farmers, artisans and cooks tell about the origins of native corn and the need to defend the genetic integrity, diversity and community ownership of Native seeds. 

Land Back: Short Docs
Six documentaries explore the unknown future for Greenland Inuit, a return home to northern Quebec, stories of elders of the Anicinape territory, culture camps in an Atikamekw community, the occupation of unceded Indigenous lands by community members from the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, the continuing presence of a tipi erected originally only for Canada’s Indigenous Peoples Day, and continuing traditional dugout canoe racing for the Coast Salish. Filmmakers are Guillaume Baillargeon, Kellen S. Bomberry (Six Nations), Inuk Jergensen (Greenland Inuk), Erik O'Neil & Amy Smoke & Shawn Johnston, Kevin Papatie (Anishnaabe), Marie-Christine Petiquay (Atikamekw), and Jeremy Dyson

>>> Sunday, September 19 <<<
All three programs stream starting at 12 Noon today for 48 hours.

Narrative feature. Canada.

Daniel Foreman (Métis), Stephen McMichael. Cast: Joel Oulette, Chris Pereira, Olivia Kate Iatridis. This film is geoblocked to Canada. When 17-year old Derrick’s hard-living sister disappears, he sets out to find her, overcoming racism, police brutality, and his own lack of confidence, until he seeks spiritual help. And then he can face his

Tupaia’s Endeavour
Narrative feature. Aotearoa/New Zealand. 

Lala Rolls (Fijian, New Zealand) New Zealand born artist Michel Tuffery (of Samoan, Rarotongan and Tahitian heritage) and Māori actor Kirk Torrance retrace the footsteps of the 18th century Polynesian star-navigator, Tupaia. When James Cook, captain of the British Navy ship Endeavour, took his first steps on the un-colonised shores of 1769 New Zealand, he set in train a violent collision. However this first meeting with Māori did not end in disaster for the Europeans because of Tupaia, who had joined the Endeavour expedition in Tahiti but whose huge contribution was left out of European history books, Preceded by The Pakohe Trail dir. Keelan Wiaker (Māori) about Maori pakohe (argillite) carver Lewis Smith (Ngāti Kuia, Ngati Apa). Home from School: The Children of Carlisle dir. Geoff O’Gara In 2017 a delegation of Northern Arapaho tribal members travels from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to retrieve remains of three children who died at Carlisle Indian Industrial school in the 1880s, a deep look into the trauma of boarding schools. Genocide of a Culture dir. Danilo Velasquez. A documentary essay concerned with Canada’s dark history regarding Indigenous culture. 

Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF)

Hybrid. In Canada only Toronto, other Canadian locations
September 9 – September 18

In its 2021 edition TIFF will have in-cinema and drive-in screenings in Toronto and other locations, as well as virtual offerings across Canada on TIFF Bell Lightbox. Tickets for some talks and interactive Q&A sessions with actors and creators are available worldwide, and the Industry Conference is available for worldwide enrollment.

The Night Raiders. Narrative feature. Canada, New Zealand. Danis Goulet (Cree-Métis). In Cree, English. 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. TIFF Gala Presentation.

Ste. Anne Experimental feature. Canada. Rhayne Vermette (Métis). Renée has been missing for years and her return unsettles the family. As she begins to form her dreams from fragments of her past, ominous premonitions disrupt the land. Shot over the course of two years, Commissioned by the Indigenous-led COUSIN Collective and shot on16mm film over 14 months, Ste. Anne traces an allegorical reclamation of land through personal, symbolic and historical sites all across Treaty 1 Territory, near Manitoba, heartland of the Métis Nation.

Wildhood Narrative feature. Canada. Bretten Hannam (Mik’maq). In English, Mi’kmaq. Link and his brother flee their abusive father and embark on a journey where Link discovers his sexuality and rediscovers his Mi’kmaw heritage. Cast: Phillip Lewitski, Joshua Odjick, Avery Winters Anthony, Michael Greyeyes. TIFF New Wave Presentation.

The Panthers Dramatic series. Aotearoa/New Zealand. Created by Tom Hern, Halaifonua Finau. Multiple directors. Responding to the impact of the Black Panther Party in the US, and recognizing the need for response to the racial injustices against Māori and Pacific Islanders in Aotearoa (New Zealand), in the 1970s six young Pacific Islanders formed the Polynesian Panther Party (PPP). The series retells the story following co-founder Will IIolahia (played by newcomer Dimitrius Schuster-Koloamatangi).

Wochiigii lo: End of the Peace Feature documentary. Canada. Heather Hatch (Haida). Pipelines tend to get all the ink in terms of environmental risks, but there are many other potential disasters in the offing. Take, for example, the Site C Dam, a gargantuan hydro electric project on northern British Columbia’s Peace River. The 13th longest river system on the planet, the Peace cuts across an area largely populated by Indigenous peoples.

Short Films

Angakusajaujuq - The Shaman's Apprentice Animation. Canada. Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit) This work brings Zacharias Kunuk’s unparalleled storytelling skills and cinematic prowess into a new medium with his first animated work, an intricate and mesmerizing stop-motion about a young shaman facing her most daunting test.

Little Bird Narrative. Canada. Tim Myles (Mik’maq). The filmmaker and actor Tim Myles pays a deeply moving and humorous tribute to his mother and his heritage

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Meneath, The Hidden Island of Ethics Animation. Terril Calder. In English, Anishinaabemowin. A stop-motion animation charts a challenging journey for Baby Girl, a precocious Métis girl contemplating her path to Hell. 

TIFF Cinematheque – Retrospectives

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner Narrative feature. Canada. Zacharias Kunuk This 2K restoration marks the 20th anniversary of Zacharias Kunuk’s landmark work, named in a 2015 TIFF poll as the greatest Canadian film ever made.

Celebrating Alanis
Works by Alanis Obomsawin

Lighting the Fire: Programme 1

  • The Canoe. This short from Obomsawin’s Manawan series captures the creation of a stunning work of art: a small-scale version of a birch-bark canoe.
  • Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. Filmed at the standoff in Oka, Quebec, in 1990, this award-winning doc gives an essential point of view of a pivotal time in recent Canadian history.

Lighting the Fire: Programme 2

  • Moose Call. Atikamekw Elders demonstrate the beautiful horn that is vital to their culture and community, in this entry in Obomsawin’s early-’70s Manawan series.
  • Amisk This document of a nine-day event in solidarity with the James Bay Cree features a musical performance from the director herself.
  • Incident at Restigouche This impassioned account of police raids on Mi’kmaq fisheries further galvanized the connection between Alanis Obomsawin’s activism and her art.

Portraits: Programme 1

Puberty - Parts 1 and 2 Two intimate shorts tells the gentle narrative of a Sto:lo woman and Elder who reflects on her journey to becoming a young woman, and her enduring connection to culture, land, and family.

Mother of Many Children This 1977 film celebrates Indigenous womanhood, portraying matriarchal cultures that for centuries have survived colonial society.

Portraits: Programme 2

  • Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child Obomsawin’s prescient 1986 film is a powerful tribute and an indictment of the mistreatment of Indigenous children by Canada’s child welfare system.
  • No Address This documentary focuses on the houseless Indigenous population in 1980s Montreal, where dreams of a better life can be met with harsh realities.

The Dignity of Children: Programme 1

  • Snowshoes The construction of the venerable snowshoe is demonstrated from start to finish in this film from Obomsawin’s Manawan series.
  • Walking Is Medicine A portrait of six young Cree men who trekked 1,600 km from Whapmagoostui First Nation to Parliament Hill in support of the Idle No More movement. Our People Will Be Healed Obomsawin’s 50th film is an uplifting look at the Norway House Cree Nation and the innovations they’ve instituted in their educational system.

The Dignity of Children: Programme 2

  • Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair A powerful speech by Senator Murray Sinclair is interspersed with testimonies from residential schools survivors.
  • Mount Currie Summer Camp A visual archive of a Stl’atl’imx (Líl̓wat) community in the 1970s through the faces of their young people.
  • Children This early Obomsawin short comprises a series of still images and the bright, inquisitive faces of children from the Atikamekw community of Manawan.
  • Sigwan In one of only two narrative works by Alanis Obomsawin, an ostracized girl is comforted and counselled by the animals of the forest.
  • When All the Leaves Are Gone The lone First Nations student at a 1940s school finds solace and strength in her imagination, in the second Obomsawin narrative short. Christmas at Moose Factory Obomsawin’s directorial debut, filmed at a residential school, is composed of drawings by Cree children and stories told by the children themselves.

This program of mostly early works includes a special preview trailer for the new animated short film Seeds: The Art of Alanis Obomsawin, created and directed by Terril Calder and proudly presented by The Glenn Gould Foundation. Seeds will be projected as an outdoor sound and light show at the Royal Ontario Museum for a two-week run starting 10/04/2021.

TIFF Originals (online worldwide)

2021 - for Press and Industry Conference participants only

Thursday, September 9, 2:00 ET

Narrative Sovereignty: Pathways to Partnership and Collaboration for Indigenous Productions
Building on the Narrative Sovereignty session from last year (see below), this panel explores how institutions are supporting Indigenous films through partnerships and cross organizational collaboration. This conversation features Angela Bates (Screen Australia), Anne Lajla Utsi (International Sámi Film Institute), Jesse Wente (Indigenous Screen Office), and Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka (New Zealand Film Commission) and is moderated by Bird Runningwater (director of the Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute).

2020 – recorded and free online worldwide

Narrative Sovereignty: Perspectives – ongoing online worldwide

In this panel discussion co-presented by the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival with imagineNATIVE, Tracey Deer (creator of Mohawk Girls and director of Beans, a TIFF 2020 selection), Chelsea Winstanley (co-director of Waru and producer of Jojo Rabbit, which both played the Festival), Bird Runningwater (director of the Indigenous Program at the Sundance Institute), and Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (director of the Festival selections Shinaab and Shinaab, Part II) discuss the growing calls and crucial need for narrative sovereignty in film. In the long-standing context of cultural theft under colonialism, what does it look like in practice to tell Indigenous stories with an authentic lens? How can we challenge non-Indigenous industry norms around issues like creative license, working roles, and relationship management? Recorded live on September 15, 2020.

41st FIN Atlantic International Film Festival

Halifax, Nova Scotia – In-person. Online regionally.
September 16 – September 23

This in-person festival also is providing FIN Stream, film offerings online that are Atlantic Canadian films, curated from the overall festival program. With a focus on regional content and local filmmakers, FIN Stream is available online to all Atlantic Canadians.

Indigenous films, in-person only


Wildhood Narrative feature. Canada. Director/writer: Bretten Hannam (Mi’kmaq). In English and Mi’kmaw. Cast: Michael Greyeyes, Phillip Lewitski, Joshua Odjick, Joel Thomas Hynes, Avery Winters-Anthony, Savonna Spracklin. When Link discovers that his Mi'kmaw mother is still alive, he runs away from an abusive father with his younger brother Travis in a desperate gamble to start a new life. Joined by Pasmay, a pow wow dancer drawn to Link’s story, they embark on a Two-Spirit odyssey, reconnecting with the culture and territory of Mi'kma'ki/Nova Scotia while searching for Link’s mother.The website has a link to a DGC Visionaries interview with the director. There is also an in-person encore presentation of Wildhood in its Mi’kmaq language version.

Run Woman Run Narrative feature. Canada. Director/writer: Zoe Hopkins. In English and Mohawk. Cast: Dakota Ray Hebert, Asivak Koostachin. Single mother Beck has been running from reality. Something has to give, and it does when Beck finds herself in a diabetic coma and visited by a ghostly ancestor, the legendary Indigenous marathon runner Tom Longboat, who becomes her wise-cracking new life coach. Told with a lighthearted touch, Run Woman Run is a feel-good anti-rom-com about a woman who has to tackle the ghosts of her past before she can run toward a new future.

Night Raiders Narrative feature. Canada. Director/writer: Danis Goulet (Cree/Métis). In English and Cree. Cast: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.The year is 2043. A military occupation controls disenfranchised cities in post-war North America. Children are property of the State. A desperate Cree woman joins an underground band of vigilantes to infiltrate a State children’s academy and get her daughter back. Link on the website to free streamed DGC Visionaries interview with the director.

Bootlegger Narrative feature. Canada. Caroline Monnet (Anishnaabe, French). In French and Anishinaabemowin. Cast: Devery Jacobs. Mani returns to the reserve in Quebec where she grew up. Resolved to reintegrate into the community, she gets involved in the debate around a referendum on allowing the free sale of alcohol on the reserve. Opposing forces quickly divide the community into two sides who face off with each other.

Portraits from a Fire Narrative feature. Canada. Trevor Mack (Tsilhqot'in First Nation). In English & Tsilhqot'in. Cast: Nathaniel Arcand, Asavik Koostachin. This coming-of-age story follows an eccentric misfit named Tyler, who spends his days recording and vlogging his community--until he meets Aaron, an older, influential teenager who pushes him to show his latest work about his family to the community. This leads to a reckoning between past and future, between life and death, and between father, mother, and son.

End of the Line: The Women of Standing Rock Documentary feature. US, Finland. Shannon Kring. The story of a group of Indigenous women who risked their lives to stop the Dakota Access oil pipeline construction because it desecrated the ancient burial and prayer sites and threatened their land, water, and very existence.

Indigenous Films--both in-person and FIN Stream (Atlantic Region)

Evan’s Drum Documentary short. Canada. Ossie Michelin (Inuit). An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing.

Nalujuk Night Documentary short. Canada. Jennie Williams (Inuit). In English and Inuktitut. The annual January 6 tradition in Nain when people gather to await the Nalujuit, masked figures that represent startling characters said to come in from the Eastern sea ice.

Pituamkek: A Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape Documentary short. Canada. John Hopkins. With painful memories of residential schools, Pituamkek—a proposed National Park Reserve for Prince Edward Island—may become a place of healing for the Mi’kmaw.

Drum Dream: Instrument of Spirit Documentary short. Canada. Gary O’Connell, Michelle Tweed. Through a Drum Dream odyssey, Michelle Tweed honors Native tradition. 


Haudenosaunee Micro-Short Film Program
Online, September 4 – 11

This program was curated by Seneca filmmaker Terry J. Jones and opened Buffalo’s MicroMania Film Festival 2021. Originally presented in-person with a filmmakers panel on September 4 at the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College, New York.

Participating filmmakers included:

  • Caleb G. Abrams (Seneca)
  • Jonathan Elliott (Mohawk)
  • Terry J. Jones (Seneca)
  • Karenna’onwe Dr. Karen Hill (Mohawk)
  • Kahstoserakwathe Paulette Moore (Mohawk)
  • ZsaZsa K (Seneca)
  • Candace Maracle (Mohawk)
  • Brooke Rice (Mohawk)
  • Judith Schuyler (Onyota'a:ka, Oneida Nation)
  • Rosy Simas (Seneca)
  • Patrick Redeye (Seneca), Maurice John Jr. (Lakota Sioux) & Tami Watt (Seneca) 

78th Venice Film Festival

Venice, Italy
September 1 – September 11

A Special Jury Prize was awarded to El gran movimiento dir. Kiro Russo. Shot on 16mm film and using a number of film modes--including neorealist, fantasy and surreal--this film features a cast of non-professional Bolivian actors playing semi-fictionalized versions of themselves. It probes change—"the great movement”—being experienced by Indigenous people drawn to the city. A day worker--a miner who came to the capital city, La Paz, when he lost his job--is ailing and taken under care by a market woman who has no other family, turning to Max, a shaman and healer, who is facing the fact that people have begun to stop believing in shamanic healing‘s power. 


Yellow Bird Series Adaptation in Works at Paramount+ From Sterlin Harjo & Erica Tremblay; Beau Willimon & Michael London Producing by Denise Petski, Deadline, August 26, 2021. 

Paramount+ has won rights to and will be developing Yellow Bird, a one-hour drama series based on Sierra Crane Murdoch’s Pulitzer Prize finalist, Yellow Bird: Oil, Murder and a Woman’s Search for Justice in Indian Country. Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muskoke) and Erica Tremblay (Seneca-Cayuga) will co-create and executive produce with Westwood Productions and Groundswell. Murdoch and the book’s subject, Lissa Yellowbird, will also be executive producers of the show. 

“The series is described as a true crime show, a family drama and an immersive look at modern Native American life. Newly released from jail, Lissa Yellowbird returned to her reservation in North Dakota in the midst of one of the largest oil booms in modern history. Her attempts to reconcile with her estranged family were complicated when she became obsessed with a young oil worker’s disappearance. An amateur sleuth from the wrong side of the law, Yellow Bird ultimately exposed a sweeping criminal conspiracy of murder and corruption, healing her own family in the process of helping the oil worker’s mother find closure regarding her son’s fate. She has gone on to investigate cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women nationwide, which will be the focus of subsequent seasons.” 

Two Shows by Jeffrey Gibson

  • Jeffrey Gibson (Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Cherokee descent) lives and works in New York. He has had numerous solo and two-person shows throughout the United States, and has been part of group exhibitions, and his work is held in many public collections. Named a MacArthur Fellow in 2019, is currently a visiting artist at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
  • To Feel Myself Beloved on the Earth at ART OMI – Benenson Center, Ghent, NY September 11, 2021 – January 2, 2022
  • An exhibition of large-scale quilts, garments, drums, prints and a video that features six different performances from a variety of cultural and dance backgrounds, filmed in both urban and natural locations. The performers wear garments created by Gibson’s studio and these are displayed alongside seven new drums.

Sweet Bitter Love: An Initiative of ‘Toward Common Cause’
The Newberry Library – Hanson Gallery, Chicago
May 28 – September 18.

Gibson’s reflections on representations of Indigenous people in cultural institutions. Responding to a series of 19th-century portraits by Eldridge Ayer Burbank, he refutes the stereotypical imagery that, for centuries, has helped create and reinforce pernicious myths about Indigenous people. This exhibition is part of the Smart

Museum of Art at the University of Chicago’s initiative, “Toward Common Cause: Art, Social Change, and the MacArthur Fellows Program at 40.” 


National Museum of the American Indian

Youth in Action: Conversations about Our Future Series (online)

Environmental Justice in South America/Justicia ambiental en Sudamérica
September 16, 4 – 5 pm ET

How do you make environmental development more just and equitable? Join the museum’s cultural interpreters in a conversation with young Indigenous activists from South America who are combating overexploitation of natural resources and developing more sustainable solutions.

This conversation will take place in Spanish. Simultaneous English interpretation and closed captioning in Spanish and English will be available. Esta conversación se llevará a cabo en español. Estarán disponibles subtítulos en español e inglés y su interpretación simultánea en inglés. The Youth in Action series features young Native activists and changemakers from across the Western Hemisphere who are working towards equity and social justice for Indigenous peoples. The program is free but registration is required. 

National Book Festival

Library of Congress
Washington, D.C.
September 17 – September 26

The 2021 Library of Congress’s National Book Festival presents more than 100 authors in virtual live events including live Q&A, as well as Washington Post Live events, a new podcast series with NPR, a national television special with PBS, and two in-person ticketed evens at the Library. Recordings of conversations are available during and after the festival in the LoC’s Event Videos collection. The 2021 festival features four Indigenous authors. 

>>> Friday, September 17, 11:00 am ET <<<

A Washington Post Live Event

U.S. poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Muscogee Creek), author of Poet Warrior: A Memoir, in conversation with Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart. Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer and the author of nine books of poetry, including her acclaimed An American Sunrise, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs.

>>> Friday, September 17, 4:00 pm ET <<<

Live Conversation Online

Kelli Jo Ford (Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma), author of Crooked Hallelujah External, and Toni Jensen (Métis), author of Carry: A Memoir of Survival on Stolen Land External, discuss their new books with Nick Martin, the Indigenous Affairs desk editor at High Country News and a contributing editor to The New Republic. A direct link to the virtual event will be available on National Book Festival website closer to the date of the Festival. Attendees may register during the event to submit questions for the live Q&A at the end.

>>> Starting Friday, September 17 at 10:00 am ET <<<

Video on Demand Conversation

Rep. Sharice Davids discusses her book Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman, which tells the triumphant true story of how Davids became one of the first Native American women elected to Congress and the first LGBTQ Congress member to represent Kansas. 


Forge Project Fellowships
Ancram, New York

Launched in 2021, the Forge Project in New York State’s Hudson Valley is an initiative to support leaders and organizations in culture, education, food security, and land justice. Its executive director is Candace Hopkins (Carcross,Tagish First Nation), an internationally recognized curator (and graduate from the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College) who two years ago served as the senior curator of the first Toronto Biennial of Art and, among many other exhibitions, was co-curator of the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale that featured the Isuma Collective and multiple facets of their film A Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuck.

Forge Project has a special focus on Indigenous leaders and inaugurated its work with forming an annual Indigenous Fellowship Program. This first year has four Fellows, selected by the director of the program, historian and lecturer Heather Bruegl (Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee). Each Fellow is receiving a $25,000 cash award and opportunity to utilize the Forge grounds and its building—designed by artist Ai Wei Wei—to develop ideas and projects. 

The inaugural Forge Project Fellows are

  • Chris T Cornelius (Oneida), founding principal of studio.indigenous
  • Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians), filmmaker and artist Jasmine Neosh (Menominee), student and environmental advocate
  • Brock Schreiber (Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans), writer, community leader and language teacher

For more information also see “Forge Fellowship Awards $25,000 to Four Native Notables by Vincent Schelling in Indian Country Today, August 25, 2021 

2021 Telefilm Canada Awards

In August Telefilm Canada, the national organization for funding documentary and feature film production in Canada, announced its funding support for seven Indigenous projects through the Indigenous Stream. The projects were submitted under the Theatrical Documentary Program and the Production Program, for a total commitment of more than $3 million Canadian. An additional commitment of $1 million Canadian is also available to creators from Canada’s Indigenous communities, reserved for projects applied through the Talent to Watch Program and the Development Program.

Telefilm has consulted with Indigenous creators across Canada to create a five-point action plan to better support Indigenous voices.

  1. Indigenous Stream to increase feature film production and development financing for creators from Canada’s Indigenous communities. Projects must demonstrate that they are majority owned and controlled and controlled by Indigenous creators.
  2. Indigenous Jury to professionally assess projects identified as Indigenous. Advisory Committee names are made public on the Telefilm website after awards are announced. 
  3. Support critical research and activities that address the gaps and challenges of Indigenous creators and support festivals and other initiatives across the country that showcase and support Indigenous talent 
  4. Financing and administrative support for the Indigenous Screen Office 

2021 awards were given to the following Indigenous projects:

  • Broken Angel (drama/thriller). Director/writer Jules Koostachin
  • Café Daughter (drama) Director/writer: Shelley Niro
  • Dusk and Dawn (drama/comedy) Director/writer: Roseanne Supernault Ice Road (thriller) Director/writer: Kelvin Redvers
  • Mémoires (documentary) Director: William Mazzoleni. Writers: Neegan Trudel Sioui and Louis-François Grenier
  • Singing Back the Buffalo (documentary) Director/writer: Tasha Hubbard Tarriaksuit (Shadow People) Directors: Lucy Tulugariuk and Carol Kunnuk 

In Memory: Bennie Klain

The independent film community mourns the loss of Bennie Klain (1972-2021). Bennie was from Tó NehelḈÇh (Red Lake/Tonalea, AZ) on the Navajo Nation, and was Honágháahnii (One ́ Walks around Clan) born for Táchii’nii (Red Running into the Water Clan). In his work he looked clearly and compassionately into cultural conflict. His documentaries include Columbus Day Legacy, concerned with the competing interests in that holiday in Denver’s Italian American and Native American communities. Weaving Worlds, which screened nationally on PBS, looked at two sides of the making and marketing of Navajo weaving, introducing the weavers at home and work, and showing their complicated relationship with the white traders who sell their work. His short fictions included the funny and poignant Share the Wealth, starring Casey Camp-Horinek as a homeless Native woman treated badly in line for food, who finds joy anyway in sharing her small amount of wealth when she gets it. The short Yada Yada focuses on the antagonism between a radio talk show host and his callers, which is abruptly silenced with the interruption by an announcement that the World Trade Center towers have fallen.

A fluent Navajo speaker, Klain often incorporated the language into his work. For years he anchored the award-winning daily newscasts in Navajo at radio station KTNN-FM on the Navajo Nation, and produced with KTNN and the NMAI Film and Video Center live broadcasts in Navajo for the opening of the exhibition “Woven by the Grandmothers”. His first work in film was working as translator and then co-producer of the multi-layered documentary The Return of Navajo Boy, directed by Jeff Spitz, that led to public and Congressional discussion about the impacts of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. Klain received many honors, both fellowships to support his work from Native Arts and Culture Foundation, Sundance Institute, Vision Maker Media, Tribeca Film Institute, National Geographic All Roads and ITVS, and awards from national and international film festivals. He served on the Advisory Board of Cine las Americas International Film Festival in Austin and worked as a mentor to both Hispanic and Native American youth, teaching classes in filmmaking and radio production. Bennie was co-founder with Leighton Peterson of Trickster Films. Bennie’s final unfinished project, Roadman, was concerned with the Native American Church. From Native Networks/Redes Indígenas website.

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