WATCHING THIS MONTH
This month, as online festivals draw to their end for the year, we’ve included for your streaming enjoyment individual works. The selections are films, mostly narrative features, created by some of the actors and directors who’ve been winning awards recently, plus something for the holidays. Next month look for more suggestions for watching films associated with some of this year’s award-winners.
Free with subscription to Netflix. Amazon Prime Video for rental, purchase
Writer/director: Marie Clements. A war drama stars Asivak Koostachin as Dylan Nadazeau, a Gwich'in soldier serving in the Canadian Army during the war in Afghanistan, who is captured by the Taliban and plots his escape along with a Pashtun interpreter and his family. Written and directed by award-winning playwright Marie Clements (Métis). Also has an outstanding musical score. Trailer.
OshKiKishiKaw: A New Day
Free. CBC Online.
Director: Jules Koostachin. Twelve-year-old identical twins have their hair cut for the first time in a Cree coming-of-age ceremony (note their brother Asivak in some scenes)
Kayak to Klemtu
Free on YouTube.
Director: Zoe Hopkins. Ella (Ta’Kaiya Blaney), a 14-year old girl, embarks on a journey to fulfill the wish of her dying Uncle (Evan Adams) for her to kayak to the remote island of Klemtu and testify to protect the Tsimshian/Heiltsuk ancestral lands from an oil pipeline. Ella knows she cannot make the trip alone so she gathers her eccentric family to take the adventure of a lifetime. Can the family work together to survive the beautiful but dangerous trip? Or will their past prevent them from protecting their future? Trailer
The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open
Free with subscription to Netflix.
Director: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. The film centers on the interaction between Áila (Tailfeathers), an Indigenouswoman with a stable and happy domestic life, and Rosie (Violet Nelson) , a more impoverished First Nations woman who has just been a victim of domestic abuse, after they meet on the street. The majority of the film consists of one long, unbroken shot. Trailer.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
Also free with subscription to Netflix.
Director: Taika Waititi. Raised on hip-hop and foster care, defiant city kid Ricky (Julian Dennison) gets a fresh start in the New Zealand countryside. He quickly finds himself at home with his new foster family: the loving Aunt Bella (Rima Te Wiata), the cantankerous Uncle Hec (Sam Neil), and dog Tupac. When a tragedy strikes that threatens to ship Ricky to another home, both he and Hec go on the run in the bush. Trailer.
Rent on YouTube and others
Director: Sterlin Harjo. Frankie (Richard Ray Whitman) is dying and Irene (Casey Camp-Horenick) has not yet forgiven him. But she breaks him out from his hospital and the two travel across Oklahoma for him to say goodbye, a road trip that includes family, a beautiful land, chance encounters and a deepened understanding. Trailer
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen
Rent or buy on Apple TV/iTunes.
Directors: Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn. An historical story told from the viewpoint of Inuit, set in 1922 (when the Danish/Inuit explorer Knud Rasmussen documented cultures across the Arctic). The filmmakers introduce Avva (Pekkak Inukshuk), Igloolik’s last shaman, and his beautiful and headstrong daughter (Leah Angutimarik) who must decide whether to accept the Christian religion that is converting Inuit across the Arctic.
Twelve Days of Native Christmas
Director: Gary Robinson. Illustrations by Jesse T. Hummingbird. Produced by Vision Maker Media. In this short animation the classic yuletide song is given an Indigenous twist by representing in lyrics and images twelve different Native American tribes. The work is streamed from the American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH.
Christmas at Moose Factory
National Film Board of Canada
Director: Alanis Obomsawin. This lyrical 13-minute documentary from 1971, the debut film of the remarkable filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, is composed of color drawings by Cree children in a residential school in Northern Ontario, the pictures narrated by the children themselves.
Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival
Now through December 19. Tickets and passes. Online.
Broadly international programming looks at Indigenous and ethnic community peoples from Australia, Cameroon, Ecuador, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan, Russia, and the US. Free films about Garifuna culture are also online.
Indigenous themed films on December 18-19 are included in two programs of shorts. The documentary Tzouhalem, through interviews and creative re-enactments, examines the near-mythic figure of Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem.
Festivals with Indigenous Films - January
-Indigenous Film & Arts Festival. Denver. Online. TBA
-Sundance Film Festival. In-person in Utah and online. January 20 - 30, 2022
-Skábmagovat Film Festival. In-person in Inari, Finland. January 27 - 30, 2022
AWARDS and HONORS
Golden Globe 2022 Award Nominations
Reservation Dogs has been nominated for a prestigious Golden Globe Award in the category Best Musical/ Comedy Series. The awards are selected by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and will be announced on January 9, 2022.
Independent Spirit 2022 Award Nominations
Film Independent Spirit Awards, held annually in Los Angeles, are premier awards for independent film and television. The nominees were announced on December 14, and the award winners will be announced on March 6, 2022. Indigenous nominees are:
Best First Feature: Wild Indian
Best Female Lead: Kali Reis in Catch the Fair One
Best Male Lead: Michael Greyeyes in Wild Indian
Best Supporting Male: Chaske Spencer in Wild Indian
Best First Screenplay: Wild Indian
Best New Scripted Series: Reservation Dogs
Best Female Performance in a Scripted Series: Jana Schmieding in Rutherford Falls
Best Male Performance in a Scripted Series: Michael Greyeyes in Rutherford Falls
Best Ensemble Cast in a New Scripted Series: Reservation Dogs: Devery Jacobs, D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Lane Factor, Paulina Alexis, Sarah Podemski, Zahn McClarnon, Lil Mike, FunnyBone
“The 25 Best Breakthrough Performances of 2021” by Ryan Lattanzio and Kristen Lopez for IndieWire, December 1, 2021. The article names Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs as one of the 25 “rising stars we can’t wait to see more of.” “Let’s be clear, the entire cast of FX’s “Reservation Dogs” could have made this list. They’re all fantastic. But from the minute she’s introduced as Elora Danan, Devery Jacobs dominates the screen…”
IDA/International Documentary Association 2022 Award Nominations
The following documentaries with Indigenous themes have been nominated for the prestigious IDA Awards. Winners will be announced on February 5, 2022.
Best Feature: Nothing But the Sun director: Arami Ullón. producer: Pascal Trächslin
Best Short: Joe Buffalo director: Amar Chebib. producer: Hayley Morin, Mark Stannard
Best Multi-part Series: Exterminate All the Brutes director/executive producer: Raoul Peck. Multiple producers
2021 Gotham Awards
The Gotham Awards, held annually in New York City, focus on films and series with independent vision and point of view and--except for one new category--that are made in the US. On November 29 the Gotham Awards announced that the winner of the Breakthrough Series-Short Form (under 40 min.) is Reservation Dogs, Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi, creators; Taika Waititi, Sterlin Harjo, Garrett Basch, executive producers for FX
Other Indigenous creative projects and actors nominated this year are:
Outstanding Lead Performance: Michael Greyeyes in Wild Indian
Outstanding Performance in a New Series: Devery Jacobs in Reservation Dogs, Michael Greyeyes in Rutherford Falls
Breakthrough Nonfiction Series: Exterminate All the Brutes, the powerful anticolonialist series
The 21st festival, held October 19 - 24, awards a wide range of media genres with cash prizes, and includes audience choices of a feature film and a short film. The productions in the festival all have Indigenous creators. It is the first and only Indigenous film festival in the world to be a Qualifying Festival for the Best Live Action Short category for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
August Schellenberg Award of Excellence to Dr. Shirley Cheechoo with support from Joan Karasevich Schellenberg and ACTRA National with a $2500 cash prize
Dramatic Feature Award with support from imagineNATIVE with a $7500 cash prize to Bootlegger director Caroline Monnet Trailer.
Documentary Feature Award in recognition of the legacy of Alanis Obomsawin with support from CBC with a $5000 cash prize to Warrior Spirit director Landon Dyksterhouse
Documentary Short Award with support from TVO with a $2500 cash prize to Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again director Courtney Montour. Trailer.
Live Action Short Award--in recognition of founders Cynthia Lickers-Sage and Vtape with support from Vtape and Jason Ryle with a $7500 cash prize--and Audience Choice Award to Angakusajaujuq–The Shaman’s Apprentice director Zacharias Kunuk
Indigenous Language Production Award with support from Indigenous Media Initiatives with a $2500 cash prize to Matuna, la sombra del Guerrero director Rafael Roberto Mojica Gil
Sun Jury Award with support from the Directors Guild of Canada with a $2500 cash prize to Hiama director Matasila Freshwater
Moon Jury Award with support from the Directors Guild of Canada with a $2500 cash prize and Audience Choice Award to Run Woman Run director Zoe Hopkins. Trailer
Experimental Audio Award with support from imagineNATIVE with a $2500 cash prize to The Battle Within director Janet Marie Rogers
Narrative Audio Award with support from imagineNATIVE with a $2500 cash prize to Warrior Kids Podcast: The Boy and the Whale by Dr. Pamela Palmater
Emerging Digital + Interactive Award with support from imagineNATIVE with a $2500 cash prize to A Drive To Top Surgery by Raven Two Feathers
Mid-Career Digital + Interactive Award with support from imagineNATIVE with $2500 cash prize to A Strong Fire by Wendi Sierra
Innovation in Storytelling Award in recognition of Kent Monkman with support from Sobeys and Kent Monkman with a $7500 cash prize to Puisi by Pilutaq Lundblad
New Voice in Storytelling Award in honor of Jane Glassco and Ellen Monague with support from CJ Foundation, Indigenous Education & Engagement (Humber College) a $2500 cash prize to Adaawk by Lorna Brown
APTN/Web Series Pitch Prize with support from APTN and Bell Fund for $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizing and others to The Feather News by Ryan Moccasin, Shawn Cuthand, Daniel Knight
Harmonize Prize with support from Slaight Music $5500 cash prize and others to Andrew Joseph Stevens
The 46th annual festival, held virtually November 5 - 13, announced its 2021 awards
Best Film: Run Woman Run director Zoe Hopkins. Trailer.
Best Director: Trevor Mack for Portraits from a Fire Trailer.
Best Actress: Dakota Ray Hebert in Run Woman Run
Best Actor: Stormee Kipp in Sooyii
Best Supporting Actress: Violet Cameron in Brother, I Cry
Best Supporting Actor: Asivak Koostachin in Portraits From A Fire
Best Documentary Feature: Savage Land directors Campbell Dalglish & Dr. Henrietta Mann Trailer.
Best Documentary Short: Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again director Courtney Montour
Best Live Short: Kwêskosîw (She Whistles) director Thirza Cuthand
Best Animated Short: How to Lose Everything: A Field Guide directors Christa Couture, Bekky O'Neil
Best Music Video: Dream, featuring Doc Native & Spencer Battiest, director Adam Conte
2021 DOC NYC Awards
This extensive US documentary film festival, held November 9 - 28, has announced its juried awards. Special Jury Mention in the Kaleidoscope section, which showcases “essayistic and formally adventurous” documentaries, was awarded to Nothing But the Sun, directed by Arami Ullón, produced by Pascal Trächslin. “a film that provides a gateway to a diverse and complex history, and helps to salvage and give a form to a common memory. This is a choral film, one full of speaking that prioritizes the collective, rather than an individual voice, and explores the fragility of media in preserving oral histories, encounters, emotions, and the residue of trauma.”
David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu, AM (c.1953 – 2021), known professionally as David Gulpilil and posthumously for three days for cultural reasons as David Dalaithngu, was an Australian actor and dancer, known for the films Walkabout, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Tracker, and Charlie’s Country. Gulpilil, who has been credited with revolutionizing the way the world saw Aboriginal people, began acting in films at a time when Aboriginal parts were basically non-existent.
Of the Yolngu people, he was raised in a traditional lifestyle in Arnhem Land in northern Australia. As were his wishes, his community has revised customary protocols and provided permission for the use of all his names posthumously, stating “…David was an inimitable talent who ‘walked between two worlds’, that of his Country and Culture, and that of the film world, placing him in a unique position regarding posthumous naming cultural practice. David wanted people to know his name, remember his work, and know his immense legacy to Australian cinema and Australian culture. He was rightfully proud. He wanted his storytelling through film to be shared, to be on the record for the generations to come…”Gulpilil was a major creative influence throughout his life in both dance and film. He was a skilled dancer as a young man when British director Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout) recognized his talent. He initiated and narrated the film Ten Canoes, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. The prize-winning, low-budget film, based on 1,000-year-old traditional story of misplaced love and revenge, features non-professional Aboriginal actors speaking their local language. Gulpilil collaborated with the director, Rolf de Heer, urging him to make the film, and provided the voice of the storyteller. De Heer had directed Gulpilil in another film, The Tracker (2002). In 2014, he again collaborated with De Heer on Charlie’s Country, this time sharing screenwriting credits. The film won several awards, including Best Actor in Un Certain Regard at Cannes, a part of the festival that emphasizes original, individual points of view and innovative film-making.
Gulpilil received multiple awards in his lifetime. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1987. He twice received the AACTA/AFI Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for The Tracker in 2002 and Charlie’s Country in 2014.
In 2019 he was honored with the lifetime achievement award at NAIDOC Awards and the Premier’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in the South Australian Ruby Awards. In June 2021, Ngarrindjeri-Arrernte artist Thomas Readett created a huge permanent mural on the eastern wall of the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Australia, representing Gulpilil’s life. On December 8, 2021 Gulpilil was awarded posthumously the Langford Lyell Award for his contribution to the Australian film industry as part of AACTA ceremonies (an event comparable to the US’ Academy Awards), after receiving it earlier in person at home. From Wikipedia and the New York Times, November 29, 2021
Joanne Shenendoah (1957 - 2021), known for infusing ancestral melodies with the sound of contemporary instruments, died on November 22. She was a member of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida Nation in central New York. With her music, along with the content of her lyrics, she sought to counter centuries of mistreatment and marginalization of Native Americans; she also pleaded for her listeners to protect the earth, and she hoped to offer solace to the soul.
Shenandoah recorded 15 albums and numerous singles, and collaborated with many other musicians. She won a Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album for two tracks on the 2005 album “Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth”: “Seeking Light,” a solo track, and “Mother Earth,” which she performed with Rita Coolidge and Ms. Coolidge’s trio, Walela. She won 14 Native American Music Awards, the most ever awarded to a single artist. Earlier this year, Ms. Shenandoah released her last full-length recording, “Oh Shenandoah,” a collection of country-infused songs that included a dedication to missing and murdered Indigenous women called “Missing You.”
Among her venues were Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden and the Smithsonian Institution, including Opening Nights of the NMAI’s Native American Film + Video Festival. She performed with Willie Nelson and Neil Young and for the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela, and performed at both of President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations. At the invitation of Hillary Clinton, then the first lady, she composed music for the unveiling of the Sacagawea dollar coin at the White House in 1999. In 2012, she traveled to the Vatican for the canonization of the first Native American saint, Kateri Tekakwitha.
Joanne Lynn Shenandoah was born in Syracuse, NY. Her mother was an artist, and her father was an iron worker who raised the family on the Oneida Reservation, just east of Syracuse. Joanne may have been destined to be a singer from birth; her Oneida Wolf Clan name, Tekaliwakwha, means “she sings.”
“Joanne’s music was meditative, healing and uplifted the spirit,” Michelle Schenandoah, her niece (she spells her surname differently) and the founder of Rematriation Magazine and Media wrote in a recent tribute. “Her lyrics helped comfort those suffering from grief, healing from physical ailments, and is often used in the delivery of babies, surgeries and played for those transitioning to the spirit realm.” From the New York Times, November 20, 2021