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Image Source: Red Path / Rachel-Alouki Labbé

October 7, 2015 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Indigenous roots, identity and representation are at the heart of six National Film Board of Canada (NFB) short films―directed by a mix of new filmmakers and some of Canada’s most acclaimed artists―screening at the 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto from October 14 to 18, 2015.

When Inuit filmmaker Bonnie Ammaaq was a little girl, she and her family moved from the government-manufactured community of Igloolik to Baffin Island, where for 11 years their home was a vast, wild and beautiful territory that lay outside their door. Her short documentary Nowhere Land is an elegy for a way of life that exists now only in the few still living who experienced it.

In Red Path, Atikamekw filmmaker Thérèse Ottawa offers an intimate look at the moving journey of Tony Chachai, a young Atikamekw man. His road to redemption—which begins with a promise to his dying mother—leads to a return to his roots and the passing on of his community’s cultural practices.

The festival is also featuring the four short films produced for the NFB’s Souvenir series, exploring Aboriginal identity and representation and created entirely from outtakes of more than 700 NFB films. Presented as part of the Opening Night Gala, Jeff Barnaby’s Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down) destroys any remaining shreds of the mythology of a fair and just Canada. Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize navigates the tension between the traditional and the modern experienced by a people moving ever forward. Michelle Latimer’s Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) deconstructs the layers beneath the recorded pageantry of Canadian nationalism. Kent Monkman’s Sisters & Brothers draws parallels between the annihilation of the bison and the devastation inflicted by the residential school system.

Quick Facts

Nowhere Land (15 min) | Welcome to Country: Shorts Program | Saturday, October 17 at 10 a.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Nowhere Land is directed by Bonnie Ammaaq, and written by Bonnie Ammaaq and Alicia Smith. It is produced by Alicia Smith and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Centre.
Bonnie Ammaaq lives in Igloolik and works for the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation. This is her second film with the NFB, following her 2012 short film Family Making Sleds, created through Stories from Our Land, a film training program by the NFB and Nunavut Film Development Corporation.

Red Path (15 min) | #selfie #stories: Youth Shorts | Thursday, October 15 at 10 a.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Red Path was originally produced in French as Le chemin rouge through the first edition of Tremplin NIKANIK, a competition for francophone First Nations filmmakers in Quebec organized by the NFB in partnership with APTN. The film was produced for the NFB by Johanne Bergeron.
Originally from Manawan, Quebec, Thérèse Ottawa has been involved in numerous groups and organizations in her community, with the goal of promoting Atikamekw culture. After working in education, she participated in a training program at the NFB and, in 2012, co-founded Tewekan Vision, a production centre created to strengthen the Aboriginal presence in the film industry.


Produced and executive produced by Anita Lee from the NFB’s Ontario Centre, Souvenir was originally featured as an installation in Gazing Back, Looking Forward, an exhibition at the Aboriginal Pavilion in Toronto during the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

Filmmakers were invited by the NFB to craft a film addressing Aboriginal identity and representation by reworking material in the NFB’s archives—outtakes from the more than 700 NFB films with Aboriginal themes, dating back to 1939—and scoring their creations with tracks by acclaimed musicians Tanya Tagaq and A Tribe Called Red.

Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down) (5 min) | screens before the opening night film, Mekko | Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. | Bloor Hot Docs Cinema

Mi’gmaq Jeff Barnaby’s powerful depictions of post-colonial desolation have earned him the label “the bad boy of Canadian cinema.” His first short, From Cherry English (2005), won two Golden Sheaf Awards and played at dozens of festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca and the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF). His third short film, File under Miscellaneous, premiered at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). His recent feature Rhymes for Young Ghouls screened internationally in theatres after receiving the Tribeca 2012 Creative Promise Award for Narrative and the Best Canadian Feature Film Award at VIFF.

Mobilize (3 min) | Home Fires: Canadian Shorts | Thursday, October 15 at 5:15 p.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 3

Caroline Monnet is an Algonquin multidisciplinary artist who has exhibited in Canada and internationally at venues such as the Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), the Museum of Contemporary Art and Arsenal (Montreal), and the Toronto International Film Festival. She uses her work in film, video and sculpture to communicate complex ideas around Indigenous identity and bicultural living through the examination of cultural histories. Monnet is also a founding member of the Aboriginal digital arts collective ITWÉ.

Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) (3 min) | Solar Flares: Experimental | Friday, October 16 at 1 p.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Michelle Latimer is an Algonquin/Métis filmmaker, actor and curator. She appeared on Playback magazine’s 2013 “Ten to Watch” list, and her 2014 short The Underground screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, won the best short film award at imagineNATIVE and was selected for Telefilm’s Not Short on Talent showcase at Cannes. Her feature documentary ALIAS premiered at the 2013 Hot Docs film festival and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. Her 2010 short film, Choke, premiered at Sundance where it received a Special Jury Honorable Mention in International Short Filmmaking, made TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten list, and was nominated for a Genie Award.

Sisters & Brothers (3 min) | Welcome to Country: Shorts Program | Saturday, October 17 at 10 a.m. | TIFF Bell Lightbox 2

Cree artist and filmmaker Kent Monkman is internationally renowned for his provocative reinterpretations of romantic North American landscape painting and for exploring the Native American experience through themes of colonization, sexuality, loss, and resilience. His film and video works have been screened at venues such as Sundance, the Berlin International Film Festival and TIFF. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums, including the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art in Toronto and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and has also participated in international group exhibitions. His awards include the Egale Leadership Award, the Indspire Award and the Hnatyshyn Foundation Visual Arts Award.

Stay Connected

Online Screening Room: NFB.ca
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About the NFB

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) creates groundbreaking interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB has produced over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 14 Canadian Screen Awards, 11 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.

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About The Author

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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