National Film Board of Canada showcases five shorts at International First Peoples Festival

National Film Board

The National Film Board of Canada will take part in the International First Peoples Festival with five short films by talented directors that showcase the diversity of Indigenous cultures in Canada. The festival runs from August 9 to 18 in Montreal.

Quick Facts

  • Bill Reid Remembers, by the celebrated Alanis Obomsawin, will have its Quebec premiere in its original English version.
  • Courtney Montour’s Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again will be screened in Kahnawake, the home community of both the director and the film’s protagonist.
  • Three of the films will be featured in the closing night gala.
  • The world premiere of Alanis Obomsawin’s Upstairs with David Amram.
  • Arctic Song by Germaine Arnattaujuq (Arnaktauyok), Neil Christopher, and Louise Flaherty.
  • Florent Vollant: I Dream in Innu (Florent Vollant: Je rêve en innu), by Nicolas Renaud.
  • In addition, on August 11 the NFB’s Alanis Obomsawin Theatre will be hosting two master classes organized by the festival.

Bill Reid Remembers by Alanis Obomsawin – QUEBEC PREMIERE (original English version)

NFB, 24 min

Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/bill-reid-remembers

  • Screenings:
    • Cinéma du Musée, Montreal, Thursday, August 11, at 6 p.m., with the director in attendance.
    • Kahnawake Legion Hall, Monday, August 15, at 1:15 p.m., during the festival’s “Revisioning the Americas through Indigenous Cinema” conference, with the director in attendance.
  • Despite spending his early life away from his nation’s culture, renowned Haida artist Bill Reid, who passed away decades ago, always kept Haida Gwaii close to his heart. While working for CBC Radio, he started learning how to make jewelry, then later sculpture, using Haida techniques and images, a move that would forever change his life and the Canadian artistic landscape. The film is a beautiful tribute from Alanis Obomsawin to her friend’s remarkable life and rich legacy.
  • The film had its world premiere at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto and has also screened at the DOXA festival in Vancouver.
  • A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers, Ms. Obomsawin has directed 55 films to date in a career spanning 55 years-chronicling the lives and concerns of First Nations people and exploring issues of importance to all.

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again by Courtney Montour

NFB, 34 min

Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/mary-two-axe-earley-i-am-indian-again

  • Screening: Kahnawake Legion Hall, Monday, August 15, at 6 p.m., with the director in attendance.
  • The film shares the powerful story of Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nations women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act, and became a key figure in Canada’s women’s rights movement.
  • Winner of three awards: Best Documentary Short at imagineNATIVE, Best Documentary Short at the American Indian Film Festival, and Best Director at the Weengushk International Film Festival.
  • The film uses never-before-seen archival footage and audio recordings, as Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour engages in a deeply personal conversation with the late Kahnawà:ke woman.

Closing night gala

  • Screening: Grande bibliothèque, Montreal, Thursday, August 18, at 7 p.m.

Upstairs with David Amram by Alanis Obomsawin – WORLD PREMIERE, with the director in attendance.

NFB, 16 min

Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/david-amram

Before her storied career as one of Canada’s foremost documentary filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin was an acclaimed singer and musician at the forefront of the Indigenous rights movement in North America. During this time, she befriended fellow musician and activist David Amram, a legendary talent and multi-instrumentalist. In this remarkable conversation recorded in 2008 at Montreal’s celebrated Upstairs jazz bar, Alanis and David reflect on a time when music was a powerful tool for social change.

Arctic Song by Germaine Arnattaujuq (Arnaktauyok), Neil Christopher and Louise Flaherty

Taqqut Productions/NFB, 6 min

Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/arctic-song

  • This short film expresses Inuit creation stories from the Iglulik region of Nunavut through song and animation, based on the original artwork of Inuit artist, storyteller and co-director Germaine Arnattaujuq (Arnaktauyok).
  • The film has been selected by several Canadian festivals across the country, from north to south and east to west.

Florent Vollant: I Dream in Innu (Florent Vollant: Je rêve en innu) by Nicolas Renaud

NFB, 5 min

  • The soul of the Innu language is the land, water and forests of the fast-disappearing caribou. Through his music, Florent Vollant continues to make this language heard around the world.
  • The film is part of the series of shorts honouring the 2021 Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA) All the GGPAA films are available free at nfb.ca/channels/governor_generals_awards/.
  • Nicolas Renaud is a filmmaker, editor and video installation artist who’s been creating experimental works and documentaries for the past 20 years, including the Hot Docs award winner Brave New River(2013). He is also a professor in the First Peoples Studies program at Concordia University in Montreal. Nicolas is a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation of Wendake.

Master Classes

On Thursday, August 11, the NFB is proud to host the festival’s two master classes at the Alanis Obomsawin Theatre, located at 1501 rue De Bleury in Montreal.

  • In the morning, Sonia Bonspille-Boileau (Pour toi Flora) will be talking about writing, producing and directing a drama series on a historical subject (in French).
  • In the afternoon, Courtney Montour (Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again) will be discussing Indigenous identity and films.

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Curator’s perspective | Director’s notes

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