Image: Still from Arctic Song/Chanson de l’Arctique, winner of Best Canadian Short Film – Radio-Canada Espaces Autochtones Award (works by Aboriginal filmmakers located in Canada)
The Montreal First Peoples Festival was back this year with a full roster of Indigenous focused films that screened throughout the city from August 8 to 19 2022. It is an exciting and important time to witness the creative filmmaking and storytelling of the First Peoples of Turtle Island and the Americas. This year’s Festival jury awarded the following amazing film works that you should put on your must view list: Congratulations to all the winners!
Teueikan Award / Création
Grand Prize: Utama, Alejandro Loayza Grisi, Bolivia 2022
In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily routine for years. When an uncommonly long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virgin and Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated by the passage of time. With the arrival of their grandson Clever, the three of them will face, each in their own way, the environment, the necessity for change, and the meaning of life itself.
Rigoberta Menchú Award
Grand Prize: Powerlands, Ivey Camille Manybeads Tso, Canada / USA
Ivey Camille Manybeads Tso, a young Navajo filmmaker, investigates displacement of Indigenous people and devastation of the environment caused by the same chemical companies that have exploited the land where she was born. She travels to La Guajira (in rural Colombia), to the Tampakan region of the Philippines, the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Mexico, and the protests at Standing Rock, USA. In each case, she meets Indigenous women leading the struggle against the same corporations that are causing displacement and environmental catastrophe in her hometown. Inspired by her journeys, Ivey Camille brings the lessons from these struggles home to Navajo Nation. Website
APTN Award dedicated to an Indigenous filmmaker who has distinguished himself/herself during the year
APTN Award : Wildhood, Bretten Hannam, Canada
A Two-Spirit, L’nu teenager runs away from his abusive father along with his younger half-brother. Along the way they meet a Two-Spirit powwow dancer who joins them on their quest. Together they travel the backroads in search of a new beginning.
Main Film international Award for Emergent Talent
The Grand Prize of 1000 $ goes to Spirit Emulsion by Siku Allooloo, Canada
A woman’s connection to her mother in the spirit world reactivates Taíno culture and presence, revealing a realm unseen. Meanwhile, amidst a backdrop of flowers everywhere, an act of ancestral sovereignty extends into the future. Filmed on Super 8 and developed by hand with plant medicines and botanicals, Spirit Emulsion evokes a language for Taíno filmmaking in relationship to the earth and cosmos, breathing an ancestral connection into new form.
Apenas el sol (Nothing but the Sun), Arami Ullón, Paraguay 2021
Facing the consequences of a violent uprooting, Mateo Sobode Chiqueno has been recording stories, songs, and testimonies of his Ayoreo people since the sixties. In an attempt to preserve fragments of a disappearing culture, Mateo walks across communities in the arid and desolate Paraguayan Chaco region, and registers on cassettes the experiences of other Ayoreo who, like him, were born in the vast forest, free and nomadic, without any contact with white civilization, until religious missionaries forced them to abandon their ancestral territory, their means of subsistence, their beliefs, and their home. Aspect Ratio Films
Best Canadian Short Film – Radio-Canada Espaces Autochtones Award (works by Aboriginal filmmakers located in Canada) with a Grant of 2500 $
Award: Arctic Song/Chanson de l’Arctique Germaine Arnattaujuq, Neil Christopher, Louise Flaherty, Canada 2021
Artist, storyteller and co-director Germaine Arnattaujuq depicts Inuit creation stories in all their glory.
Best International Short Film
Award: Flores de la llanura, Mariana X. Rivera, Mexico 2021
In the Amuzgo town of Suljaa’, women are backstrap weavers and cotton sowers. In this place, traditional textile knowledge is handed down and possessed by women. But violence against them is unfortunately commonplace. Yecenia, a young weaver, is mourning her cousin Silvia who’s been a victim of femicide. She and other weaving women create a collective ritual to honor Silvia’s life and the textile legacy they’ve received from their female ancestors. As if it were a cotton thread, their commitment to dignity weaves them together and helps them keep on with their lives despite violence.
El Gran Movimiento, Kiro Russo, Bolivia 2021
Stunningly shot in the Bolivian mountains, jungles and in contemporary La Paz, the film follows Elder who arrives in the capital after a seven-day journey seeking to get work at a mine. Once in the city, Elder gets a job but his health soon deteriorates. An elderly woman known as Mama Pancha sends him to Max, a mysterious man who resides in the rainforest and occasionally heads to La Paz for work as a street performer.