After decades of misrepresentation and under-representation of Indigenous culture in Canada’s screen industry, the Indigenous filmmaking community is experiencing a boost.
Indigenous filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin never thought she would see this in her lifetime.
50 years after starting her distinguished career amid major funding roadblocks, the Quebec-raised 85-year-old is elated to see Indigenous filmmaking finally at an “exciting” place heading into 2018, with new initiatives including an Indigenous Screen Office in Canada.
“Any Indigenous person who wants to make a film … if ever there was a possible time — this is it.”
“I feel that we’re really going someplace where we’ve never gone before. I know that Canadians are really listening now and want to know the truth.”
Announced in June, the office aims to develop a long-term strategy to help support the development, production and marketing of content in the Canadian Indigenous screen-based industry.
Jesse Wente, Toronto-based Indigenous activist and film critic says, “I think the screen office will help facilitate development of Indigenous talent to be able to take on those projects, a development of stories from an Indigenous perspective, and Indigenous-led crews and viewpoints that I think … has been tough for the industry and the community to always navigate.”
Wente hopes the office will be similar to Screen Australia’s Indigenous department and create projects in an authentic way “that has a deeply involved community and nurtures Indigenous talent to grow as filmmakers to where they’re at a really high level of production and skill.”
One of the biggest drivers of such change has been the recommendations and awareness from Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools, say many.