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Star-Studded Indigenous Cinema

Buffy Ste. Marie, Tanya Tagaq, Tina Keeper, Billy Merasty and more at the Forest City Film Festival

Indigenous Cinema Tanya Taguq
Tanya Taguq, Ever Deadly

The Forest City Film Festival is proud to announce our annual program of Indigenous cinema. This program features films that are led, written, directed, and produced by Indigenous filmmakers to our festival. These films, in turn, shine a spotlight on Indigenous experiences, artists, and stories while connecting and broadening the understanding of Indigenous places and experiences.

This year we’ve curated a star-studded array of films about music, love, artistry, and life’s complexities.  

Meet our Curator:

Judith Schuyler is an award-winning filmmaker from the Oneida Nation of the Thames. At the recent Inside Out Film and Video Festival, Schuyler won the Netflix “Pitch, Please!” competition for There is Light.

Her work includes programming for the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

Schuyler continues to work full-time to develop her screenwriting and directing craft.

Judith Shares Her Thoughts on Two of This Year’s Indigenous Cinema Programs:

Program 1: The War Racket and Ever Deadly

Buffy Ste. Marie’s The War Racket

“Buffy Ste. MariesThe War Racket’ is a MUST WATCH for its Riveting Indigenous Perspective and Visual Spectacle

I have seen Buffy Ste. Marie in concert many times and every time she brought tears to my eyes. Her music and her words always bring me pride in being First Nations.

The music video The War Racket continues to do just that, encouraging strength and courage both visually and oratory. Captivating and mesmerizing, the lyrics and imagery of Buffy, coupled with the proficient animations by Kurt Swinghammer is a visual experience that you do not want to miss on the big screen.

True art is honest, it can be uncomfortable for those who want to live in rose-coloured glasses but it also enlightens, inspires, and educates. 

That is Buffy’s legacy—she has been described as a social activist, an educator but most importantly to me, she is an example of positive leadership and an icon to Indigenous and Non-Indigenous people of North America. I could watch this music video over and over and I hope that you will join us for this riveting experience.

Tanya Taguq’s Ever Deadly

Tanya Taguq’s ‘Ever Deadly’ is Truly An Odyssey of Inuk Heritage and Artistry

We continue our film journey through to the north, no, not Toronto, the real North—Nunavut. The remarkable artist, Tanya Tagaq and her well-titled feature documentary Ever Deadly are the next stop at the festival.

It’s very hard to describe the unique character that is Tanya Tagaq. She is truly an artisan, creating and crafting her own style of music from her Inuk heritage. Tanya’s a poet, a mother, and an unwavering voice for Inuit and Indigenous women in Canada.

Seeing Tanya perform has been one of the most indescribable experiences of my life! Let me try and describe it— it was like watching someone transform right before your eyes. I felt like I was in a ceremony with her and I left the performance feeling empowered and changed.

I first watched this film at TIFF and if you consider yourself a connoisseur of film and art or not, you do not want to miss it. This film has so many layers of art, poetry, history, visual art, and most of all Indigenous music that it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to watch it all unfold on the big screen.

Ever Deadly presented with The War Racket.
October 15, 4:00 PM, Wolf Performance Hall
Details and Tickets

Program 2: Seeds and Stellar

Seed Screenshot: Indigenous Cinema

“Nostalgia and Nuance: ‘Seeds’ is A Tapestry of Indigenous Childhood on the Big Screen Infused with innocence and warmth.”

This film elicits a profound sense of nostalgia, transporting me to my formative years in my First Nations community.

We follow Raven, played by Maeve Garay, as she tries to make sense of her world through the lens of an old VHS camera. This film presents the untainted naivety of childhood from an Indigenous vantage point and so much fun to watch! To merely label this film as ‘authentic’ would scarcely capture its essence. The remarkable young actors animate their roles with such elegance that it appears deceptively effortless. In reality, such sincerity in cinema emerges only when exceptional acting and masterful direction happen simultaneously.

Every facet of Seeds, from its sartorial choices and scenic locales to impeccable performances, exudes proficiency, making it an unmissable imaginative experience.

Stellar Screenshot: Indigenous Cinema

“A Refreshing Dive into Indigenous Love Amidst Global Chaos, Shining a New Light on Romance in Indigenous Cinema with Star-Studded Performances.

Stellar offers an avant-garde narrative centering around two Indigenous souls intertwining amidst a global catastrophe, introducing a seldom explored theme of romance within the Indigenous film landscape. While we have the usual bitter taste of trauma in our mouths, Steller is a cool glass of fresh cucumber water on the palette of Indigenous cinema.

Historically, Indigenous narratives have delved into the multifaceted trauma of our communities. Yet, in defiance of the adversities we’ve weathered over the last two and a half centuries, our essence remains imbued with boundless love and joy. Our enduring values of kinship, empathy, familial bonds, and mutual understanding underscore our unique identity.

This narrative unfolds with delicate intricacies, harmoniously melding artistry and music. Distinct cinematic moments, worthy of singular artistic reverence, are amplified by a stellar ensemble led by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Braeden Clarke, and featuring luminaries such as Tina Keeper and Billy Merasty, ensuring an enthralling cinematic voyage for the discerning viewer.

Stellar presented with Seeds.
Oct. 21, 12:30 PM, Wolf Performance Hall
Film Synopsis and Tickets

The Forest City Film Festival is proud to host other films from Indigenous filmmakers, and films on Indigenous themes, in our Competition and Best of the World Festivals series.