Award-winning Indigenous filmmaker comes to town
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
The Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), in collaboration with the Nishnawbe-Gamik Friendship Centre, brought filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin and a screening of her award-winning documentary, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, to the Friendship Centre April 22.
The NFB describes the documentary. “Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police, and the Canadian army. Released in 1993, this landmark documentary has been seen around the world, winning over a dozen international awards and making history at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Best Canadian Feature award.”
When asked about her experience filming and witnessing the standoff, Obomsawin said, “When I first went, I thought it would last two days or maybe a week. It lasted 78 days…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid.”
Obomsawin was able to come to Sioux Lookout because the community was chosen as the Ontario location for the National Film Board’s Indigenous Cinema on Tour.
“It’s an honour to have her here visiting our community,” said Jennifer Thomas, executive director at the Friendship Centre.
Thomas said it is vital for young people to watch the film so they can learn and understand what happened at the standoff in order to improve and continue to make things better.
“It’s important for the youth to have an opportunity to see this film and to not lose this piece of history,” said Thomas. “To move forward in a good way, you always have to look back at how far we’ve come.”
The 85-year-old filmmaker has produced over 50 films in her career. Obomsawin is a revered figure among documentary filmmakers with many honours in both the United States and Canada.