In our final series of festival suggestions, Indigenous talent takes precedence. Films made by both local and not-so-local (but still Canadian!) Indigenous filmmakers can be found throughout the Vancouver International Women in Film Festival schedule, but two blocs, in particular, are full of First Nations content—Indigenous Voices and Family and Friendship. Skillfully told and beautifully crafted, these stories are not to be missed! Here are a few choice titles that I think are especially worth making time for.
Local screenwriter Petie Chalifoux (in collaboration with director Micheal Auger—a husband-and-wife duo!) debuts her latest feature, River of Silence, at this year’s fest. Helen (Mariel Belanger) lives with her husband Nathan (Stan Isadore) in present-day Vancouver. They are forced to navigate the horror of a missing and murdered child when their daughter, Tanis, disappears en route to visit extended family. As the evidence begins to suggest a close connection between the killer and the community, an even more troubling tale emerges. Chalifoux navigates an important topic with depth and sensitivity, delving into the pain of grief amidst the unknown, and draws upon her own personal experience of a similar struggle.
Theresa Warbus’ The Roundhouse (another B.C. production!) connects the social struggles of high school with one girl’s Ojibwe identity and celebrates triumph over the traps of peer pressure. Liya is caught between the social demands of her classmates and the traditions of her Ojibwe culture. She must make a tough decision about who she is and who she ultimately wants to be. Warbus’ film expertly weaves together different perspectives across a cultural divide, with the resilient Liya as our guide.
Finally, from the Family and Friendship bloc, the distinct visions of three Indigenous filmmakers come together in The Last Walk, a stitched-together collection of three works of short fiction, all produced by the Arctic Film Circle. The films weave together both traditional and contemporary storytelling techniques, ultimately representing a new wave of Indigenous films in the Arctic—one that pays homage to history as well as empowers a generation of modern storytellers. Directors Anna Hoover, Jerri Thrasher, and Johannes Lynge all take on similar themes of familial loss, isolation, and second chances—to divergent ends.
And thus, my series of recommendations concludes with a collection of films chosen for their variety, creative merit, and cinematic skill. I hope you enjoy these films just as much as I do! Happy film-watching!
Rive of Silence screens during the Indigenous Voices program at 2:30 PM on Thursday, March 8th. Free event; Click here to register.
The Roundhouse screens during the High Stakes program at 3:15 Pm on Saturday, March 10th. Buy Tickets.
The Last Walk screens during the Friends & family program at 4:15 Pm on Sunday, March 11th. Buy Tickets.
The Indigenous Filmmaking Panel is a free event on Sunday, March 11th at 2:45 PM moderated by Doreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunuxa First Nations) filmmaker and Coordinator/Instructor of Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking at Capilano University. Free event; Click here to register.
The Vancouver International Women in Film Festival runs from March 6th – 11th at the Vancity Theatres in Vancouver. Click here for the full festival schedule.
Sarah Bakke currently interns at WIFTV, where she gets to write all kinds of film-related material––a cinephile’s dream! When she’s not scribbling film notes or watching movies, Sarah can be found at The Cinematheque as a weekend theatre manager and online at SAD Magazine, in her role as web editor.