La Selva Negra/ The Modern Jungle won for Best Documentary | Image source: Présence Autochtone
Diversity in Indigenous cinema was celebrated at The 28th Annual First Peoples Festival in Montreal. The Indigenous rooted film festival introduced audiences to an elderly Andean couple living in the remote mountains in Wiñaypacha, an Aboriginal Australian take on a western style film in Sweet Country, as well as a locally produced documentary about an Innu community’s healing journey through traditional and modern music called Innu Nikamu: Singing the Resistance. The awards ceremony honouring the prize winners was held on Monday, August 13, 2018. MUSKRAT Magazine would like to congratulate the following 28th Annual Présence Autochtone/ Montréal First Peoples Festival prize winners!
A Guarani Spring, directed by Carlos Eduardo Magalhães (Brazil)
Rigoberta Menchú Award (Social Prize)
This prize celebrates hard hitting documentaries that highlight the struggles, resilience and hope of Indigenous communities. A Guarani Spring follows a small Guarani community- 800 to be exact – living within the city of São Paulo. The community lives and survives while trying to hold onto their culture, language, traditions, and land. Carlos Eduardo Magalhães is a Director, Editor, and Script Writer of short films who is based out of Brazil.
Wiñaypacha, directed by Oscar Catacora (Perú, 2017)
Teueikan Award (Artistic Creation Prize)
Named after the Algonquin word for sacred drum, this prize highlights the creativity and artistic work of an Indigenous filmmaker. In Wiñaypacha, an elderly Andean couple live in the remote mountainous parts of Perú, praying to their gods for their only son to return to them from city life one day. The film is spoken entirely in Amyara – a Peruvian language. Director Oscar Catacora’s inspiration for the film was his own relationship with his grandparents – often times in Perú, young people move to the cities like Puno or Lima to live, abandoning their elderly in the mountains. In the film, he explores the brokenness of the family unit due to foreign influences.
Our People Will Be Healed, directed by Alanis Obomsawin (Canada 2017)
This award celebrates an Indigenous filmmaker with special accomplishments throughout the past year. Our People Will Be Healed documents the positive effects that education and cultural reclamation have on the students of The Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre in a community north of Winnipeg. This is due to the fact that the centre receives much more funding that many First Nations community go without. Obomsawin is an acclaimed Abenaki Director who has produced 50 documentaries that focuses on Indigenous issues.
The Modern Jungle, directed by Saul Kak, Charles Fairbanks (Mexico/USA 2016)
Séquences Award (Best Documentary)
The award for Best Documentary goes to The Modern Jungle. The film gives audiences an intimate look into the Zoque culture. We follow the life of a Zoque shaman, who falls under the spell of capitalism with a pyramid scheme for a nutritional supplement, and his neighbour Carmen, a widow who lives a simple life. The films sees them through their struggles dealing with capitalism, commodity fetish, cinema culture, and the film’s director. Saul Kak is a Zoque artist, activist, and Indigenous language speaker who writes poetry. In recent years he has been producing activist performances, videos, and documentaries that focus attention on the plight, rights, and struggles of his people.
Mud (Hashtl’ishnii) directed by Shaandiin Tome (USA 2018)
Main Film Emerging Filmmaker Award
This award celebrates the best short film directed by an emerging Indigenous filmmaker. Mud (Hashtl’ishnii) follows Ruby, a mother who does her best to conceal her alcohol addiction instead of seeking help for it. On her last living day, she finds comfort in her addiction, even though her secret may be at risk. Director Shaandiin Tome (Dine) is a recent graduate of University of New Mexico with a BFA in Film and Digital Media Production that has a burgeoning career ahead of her.
Mournful Sea Symphony directed by Carlos Morales (Mexico, 2017)
Short Film Award
This short documentary follows Hugo, a sixteen year old survivor of violence as he contemplates his life in a coastal town near the US border. As he looks out into the ocean, he reflects on his move from the violent city Guerrero, his brother’s murder and his father – who immigrated to the US. Director Carlos Morales is a documentary film producer and writer based out of Mexico.