ALANIS OBOMSAWIN, PRINTMAKER AN ARTIST AND HER NATION
SPOTLIGHT ON ALANIS OBOMSAWIN’S FILM WORKS
In connection with the exhibition Alanis Obomsawin, Printmaker, the Waban-Aki filmmaker is presenting six award-winning works that she produced at the NFB.
12.30 p.m. – OVFST
Christmas at Moose Factory, 1971, 13 min
Released in 1971, this lyrical short documentary marked the directorial debut of legendary Waban-Aki director Alanis Obomsawin. Filmed at a residential school in northern Ontario, it is composed entirely of drawings by young Cree children and stories told by the children themselves. Listening has been at the core of Obomsawin’s practice since the very beginning. “Documentary film,” she said in a 2017 interview, “is the one place that our people can speak for themselves. I feel that the documentaries that I’ve been working on have been very valuable for the people, for our people to look at ourselves… and through that be able to make changes that really count for the future of our children to come.”
Incident at Restigouche, 1984, 45 min
On June 11 and 20, 1981, the Quebec Provincial Police (QPP) raided Restigouche Reserve, Quebec. At issue were the salmon-fishing rights of the Mi’kmaq. Because salmon has traditionally been a source of food and income for the Mi’kmaq, the Quebec government’s decision to restrict fishing aroused consternation and anger. Released in 1984, this groundbreaking and impassioned account of the police raids brought Alanis Obomsawin to international attention. The film features a remarkable on-camera exchange between Obomsawin herself and provincial Minister of Fisheries Lucien Lessard, the man who’d ordered the raid. Decades later, Jeff Barnaby, director of Rhymes for Young Ghouls, cited the film as an inspiration. “That documentary encapsulated the idea of films being a form of social protest for me… It started right there with that film.”
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, 1993, 119 min
In July 1990, a dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, set the stage for a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. 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. Jesse Wente, Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, has called it a “watershed film in the history of First Peoples cinema.”
Activity free of charge.
Optional pass reservation: you may reserve a seat in exchange for a service charge. One hour before the event, passes for any remaining seats will be given out free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis.
Service charges (per pass)
General public: $5