January 24, 2019 (Toronto, Canada) – The anticipated feature film by award-winning filmmaker and visual artist Shelley Niro is set to have its world premiere in Toronto. The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw screens Friday, February 22 at 7 p.m. at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Set on a native reserve, the film follows a young Indigenous woman as she is faced with a life-changing decision: follow her dreams or return to her past.
Tickets can be purchased through the AGO: https://ago.ca/events/incredible-25th-year-mitzi-bearclaw.
As Mitzi Bearclaw turns 25 years-old, she is faced with a tragic decision – stay in the big city to pursue her dream of designing hats or leave her boyfriend and return home to her isolated reserve to help care for her sick mother. Loyal to her family, Mitzi reluctantly returns to Owl Island to find that not much has changed. Her confidence and modern style clash with the sleepy, slow-paced island; the bullies are the same; the handsome Honeyboy is still running the water taxi; and Mitzi’s mother is still as bitter and unloving as ever. She’s also reunited with her spiritual friends, Faith, Hope, and Charity who guide her as she navigates a year of anger, loss and love. Mitzi is soon surprised to find comfort in being home and starts to question her destiny.
“Having the opportunity of screening The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw at the AGO is a wonderful way of bringing this film to life. I am excited,” says Shelley Niro, director. “Many talented people have contributed to making Mitzi a great experience.”
The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw stars Morningstar Angeline (Drunktown’s Finest, Longmire) as Mitzi Bearclaw; Andrew Martin (Fire Song) as Charlie B.; Gail Maurice (Johnny Greyeyes, Assini) as Annabelle Bearclaw; Billy Merasty (Indian Horse, Shinaab) as William Bearclaw; Gary Farmer (Deadman, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samuri) as Oliver Yellowdog; Vance Banzo (Indian Horse) as Ringo-Leaves-No-Shadow; Ajuawak Kapashesit (Indian Horse, Shinaab) as Honeyboy Yellowdog; and Roseanne Supernault (Rhymes For Young Ghouls, Blackstone) as Simone Muskrat. The Incredible 25th Year of Mitzi Bearclaw is produced by Turtle Night Productions, Freddie Films and Circle Blue Entertainment with the participation of Telefilm Canada, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and Ontario Creates. levelFilm is the Canadian distributor.
Shelley Niro is a multi-disciplinary artist, and a member of the Six Nations Reserve, Turtle Clan, Bay of Quinte Mohawk. She has worked in a variety of media, including beadwork, painting, photography and film. Her work challenges stereotypical images of Aboriginal peoples. Though her work delves into serious issues and is rich with poignant imagery, Niro inserts humour into her practice. Niro has received considerable attention for her work in film, including her short film The Shirt, which was presented at the 2003 Venice Biennal as well as at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and Kissed By Lightning, about a Mohawk painter in a state of grief which premiered at the imagineNATIVE Film and won the Santa Fe Film Festival’s “Milagro Award for Best Indigenous Film”.