February 21, 2017

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First-ever First Nations zombie thriller movie receives recognition at International film festivals

First-ever First Nations zombie thriller movie receives recognition at International film festivals

David Belleau, who plays “Big Gary” in Jayson Stewart’s short film, zombie thriller, REZilience.

After months and months of hard work, Jayson Stewart’s short film, a zombie thriller, REZilience, is being recognized in National and International film festivals.

The short film has been nominated in seven film festivals so far, but the biggest triumph for Stewart and his team is the nomination for Best Live Short at the 41st American Indian Film Institute Film Festival in Los Angeles, California, which started on November 4 and running until the 10.

“I think it’s fantastic, I’m very proud that our project was on enough on their radar to be shortlisted and to be one of three in our program,” said Stewart.

Along with the American Indian Film Institute, REZilience will also be featured at the LA Skins Fest which will also be showing the film at the Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.

REZilience is being called the first-ever First Nations zombie thriller movie. It also includes a lot of political issues and the history of the colonization of First Nations peoples. The film is symbolic of how diseases were used in early colonization, except in this case the disease is a zombie virus.

“We want to tell a compelling zombie story while at the same time hitting on some pretty strong political messages,” said Stewart.

Stewart is the writer and director of the film and is looking forward to finalizing the script for the full-length film.

“We’re aiming at an August 2017 film date,” said Stewart, who is working with screenwriters Stephan Phillips and Jaysin Scott Peltier to finish the script.

Sagamok Anishnawbek who was the primary producers in the short film, have already confirmed that they will provide the community and land for the filming.

Stewart is working with First Nation Elders and other experts to get their stamp of approval and to make sure the film is authentic.

“We’re including ceremony in the film and we of course want to honour everything and we want to have as much anishinabemowin language in the film as well,” said Stewart.

Stewart hopes that this project will become more than just a movie.

His ultimate goal is to not just have this short film and a feature film, but to widen the story and broadcast into many different media forms.

“There’s so much about truth and reconciliation and the resilience of the people and culture and language and the need to open up the discussion,” said Stewart.

The film festivals that REZilience has been included in to date are: Cinefest International Film Festival, Northern Frights Festival, LA Skins Fest, American Indian Film Institute Film Festival, Lake View International Film Festival, Where Is The Horse Film Festival, and Audience Awards Horror Film Festival.

This article was written by Jamie Lee Mckenzie, was originally published on Anishinabek News and has been republished with permission. 

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MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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