Aboriginal films and videos
Awards that are expressions of recognition to First Nations filmmakers and video artists for their commitment and creativity.
The TEUEIKAN prizes, named for the Algonquinian peoples’ sacred drum, aim to be a worthy spotlight for Aboriginal filmmakers’ and video artists’ creative work. Fiction remains a high road to expressing reality. The emergence of these creative artists and the quality of their work require signposts of recognition on their often-arduous path. A coveted Grand Prize: a bronze based on a sculpture by Mattuisi Iyaituk honours excellence.
An utterly Amerindian outlook provides a seamless transition between team jerseys and clerical vestments, because human and divine realities play out on the same field. Capturing the rhythms of daily work and life, running after the soccer ball’s leaps and bounds, graciously exploring ceremonial fields, the camera no longer looks in from outside but gets a hands-on look at the lives of a team of Panara youth for whom football, rituals, daily life, food, survival and Shamanism are not discordant aspects of postmodern social breakdown, but essential ingredients of the rigorously ordered harmony of the world.
For this extraordinary match between an original approach to filmmaking and a cosmic vision coming out of Panara tradition, The Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 awards Teueikan second prize to: Kiarâsâ Yô Sâty, la Cacahuète de l’agouti.
The stark, grandiose landscape of the Siberian tundra provides the backdrop for a human drama that takes on epic dimensions in this setting. No shortcuts are provided to give viewers instant access to the complexities of Nenet culture. Free of artifice and pathos, moving us through the implacable rigours of tragedy, the film leaves us dazzled by its mysterious splendour.
For its expressive qualities, combining modesty and respect towards the unfathomable mysteries of human realities, for its meticulous observation of everyday life as ordered by the binding rules of an ancient cosmic vision, for the perfect interplay of sounds and images allowing us access to the intimate life of a woman marked from birth by an inescapable fate, the jury of Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 awards Teueikan grand prize to A Bride of the Seventh Heaven.
1st prize: a Haida team’s masterful use of computer-assisted animation techniques, so a robber notorious throughout the Pacific coast region could gleefully continue his flight and his misdeeds abetted by 21st Century technology, won over the inner child sleeping in the heart of any self-respecting jury. With huge wings flapping, Crow carried an ex-aequo prize home in its beak to How Raven Stole the Sun by Chris Kientz and Simon James, creators of Raven’s Tales.
2nd prize: A novel voice in First Nations cinema takes centre stage in a legendary movie setting: Coyote’s cunning and devious spirit seems to have found new passages in the land of seven mountains. The director may have tried to lead us on a wild goose chase on this trompe l’oeil road movie, but the striking originality of a filmmaker in full possession of his means of expression cannot elude film lovers’ penetrating glances. For his nonchalant modernity and his skilfully disguised mastery of cinema’s lore and language, the First Peoples’ Festival 2005 jury granted a Teueikan Grand Prize ex-aequo to Black Horse Lowe for 5th World, a joyful cavalcade through the cinematographic references marking the roads through Navajo country.
1st prize Edge of America by Chris Eyre
James McDaniels, the lead actor in the film, made a special trip from the United States to claim the prize.
The chapters in the story are interwoven with the grace of the motifs woven into Navajo tapestries. The action rebounds again and again and the film dribbles with our emotions. Above the basket, a ball as round as the Earth turns about on the narrow rim. In a fleeting moment combining tenacious balance and suspended hope, the anxious eyes of a basketball player as she aims for victory are a condensed expression of human fate. Then, in an unexpected rebound, existential angst finds its place in the harmonious order of the cosmos, cancelling itself out in recovered serenity. For this luminous philosophy lesson in which the dialectics of victory and defeat are turned about time and again in a breathless, fast-moving screenplay, the First Peoples’ Festival 2004 granted the Teueikan Grand Prize to Chris Eyre.
2nd prize: On the Corner by Nathaniel Geary
Alex Rice, the female lead, a Mohawk from Kanahwake, claimed the prize.
Orchestrated as a mechanical chorus for an urban tragedy, the honking car horns, motors revving up and tires screeching on the asphalt provide a constant background to Angel and her brother Randy as they wander through the streets of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The documentary-style camera work recalls their implacable fate while the direction of the cast reveals these two young people’s dreams of redemption as they are caught up in the snare of delinquency. This film takes an unflinching look at its characters while revealing their tenderness, restoring their human dignity as they struggle to survive amidst degradation and a life on the margins. For this film’s tough-minded authenticity and the fleeting rays of light revealing the lead characters’ souls, the First Peoples’ Festival 2004 granted Teueikan Second Prize to Nathaniel Geary.
1st prize: Yves de Peretti for Tu es, je suis… l’invention des Jivaros
2nd prize: Priscilla Barrak Ermel for The Bow and the Lyre
1st prize: Randy Redroad for The Doe Boy
2nd prize: Bennie Klain for Yada Yada
1st prize: Shirley Cheechoo for Bearwalker
2nd prize: Luciano Larobino for Los Zapatos de Zapata
RIGOBERTA MENCHÚ grand prize
The Rigoberta Menchú prize salutes essential works. Films of urgency, hard-hitting documentaries or patient inventories of flaunted hopes, or better still, accounts of small communities resisting their disappearance, all find a place to make their story known at First Peoples’ Festival. The Rigoberta Menchú Tum Foundation and its Montreal representative, Ms Lesvia Vela have joined forces with LandInSights for the fifth year in a row to honour the quality of these works of struggle and hope.
Finding yourself on the streets in Montreal is not the outcome of mere chance. Urban Inuk delves into the mechanisms of relocation and dislocation behind the alienation pushing so many Aboriginal people into the ranks of the homeless. Pathos and pessimism have no place in such an approach. If you can understand something, you can also change it. For this strikingly realistic portrait of Inuit living on the margins of society, dreaming of their native tundra as they drift around the city, between nostalgia and the blues, the Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 jury awards the Rigoberta Menchu grand prize to Inuk urbain.
Des paroles s’envolent dans le ciel du Nitassinan aux accents de la langue ancestrale des chasseurs innus. Le temps passe et les saisons changent mais dans l’air les échos des rêves anciens demeurent. Sur les sentiers d’aujourd’hui qui sont allègrement parcourus par les auteurs compositeurs des communautés innues de la Côte-Nord, le documentaire Nikamun accompagne les artisans de la chanson contemporaine dans un périple d’espoir, de guérison et d’affirmation. Pour l’énergie de la jeunesse qui l’anime de part en part et pour son approche fraternelle et enthousiaste d’un courant culturel qui devient phénomène de société, le jury de Présence autochtone 2006 accorde le deuxième prix Rigoberta Menchu à Nikamun.
For the ambitious task of building a historical memory by means of a fictional reconstitution of the events, for a novel approach in which for once history has not been written from the conquerors’ viewpoint, for the red alert signal it lights up on the business-as-usual outlook of people who refuse to see that the issues that set off the crisis have not been resolved, for the opportunity for dialogue and debate it opens up for everyone, the jury of Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 awards a special honour to: Indian Summer : The Oka Crisis.
1st prize: Among the Haidas, providing a decent burial to their ancestors is not merely a duty to the past but also a founding act for the future of their nation. The steadfastness that is the highest form of courage has found a home on screen, thanks to filmmakers who succeeded in filming, with respect and admiration, a community’s determination to recover human remains snatched away by unscrupulous researchers from what the Haida thought would be their ancestors’ eternal resting place. For an admirable work portraying the quiet strength that proved able to open the strongest vaults and move the hardest of hearts, Kevin MacMahon earned the Rigoberta Menchú Grand Prize for The Stolen Spirits of Haida Gwaii.
2nd prize: For a documentary, backed by concrete evidence, on the secret damage irresponsible mining companies inflicted on the environment and public health, for giving a voice to those who sought to break the code of silence, for refusing to give in to the fashionable preference for cowardly complicity over critical thought and for carrying out a necessary work of witness, the First Peoples’ Festival 2005 jury granted the Rigoberta Menchú Second Prize to Neil Diamond and Jean-Pierre Maher for Heavy Metal.
1st prize: Angakkuiit by Zacharias Kunuk
Mr Norman Cohn, Mr Kunuk’s producer and associate, came to claim the prize.
Shamans have left their indelible traces in memories and, as long as there will be men and women to remember, they will keep their power to re-enchant the world. The stories gathered in Angakkuiit remind us that the marvellous is on our threshold and that the door we thought was hermetically sealed could open up again some day.For this fabulous journey into the heart of living memory, the First Peoples’ Festival 2004 jury granted the Rigoberta Menchú grand prize to Zacharias Kunuk.
2nd prize: Whispering in our Hearts by Mitch Torres, claimed by Mitch Torres herself who made a special trip from Australia.
Between archival excerpts and accounts from elders, a massacre that colonial Australia thought it could erase is reconstructed here with a frightening accuracy. In this demanding process of memory and mourning, the director is fully committed to her people’s quest and her personal involvement provides an unquestionable touch of authenticity to her documentary. For this refusal to forget and for her devotion to historical truth, the First Peoples’ Festival 2004 granted the Rigoberta Menchú Second Prize to Mitch Torres.
1st prize: Elisapie Isaac for Si le temps le permet
2nd prize: Catherine Martin for The Spirit of Annie Mae
1st prize: Valdete Pihanta Ashenika for Shomotsi
2nd prize: Ricky Derby for Rocks with Wings
3rd Bryan Gunner Cole for Boomtown
1st prize: Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador for La Dignidad de los pueblos
2nd prize: Peter Blow for Village of Widows
Séquences magazine prize
The Séquences magazine prize is awarded to best documentary.
A comedy sketch about a reserve becomes a wildfire success. But these belly laughs are symptomatic of a widespread malaise because they leave a bad taste in the mouth of the people who are the butts of the joke. For bursting the secret abscess festering in Canada’s soul, for getting Drew Hayden Taylor to utter the memorable line “humour is there to amuse, not to abuse”, the jury of Séquences magazine awards the best documentary of Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 to Brocket 99 – Rockin’ the Country
Captivated by a skilful blend of light video techniques and the ancestral knowledge of Mongolian nomads, in a film in which the modernity of the approach meets the modest and august tradition of yurt building, the Séquences magazine jury awarded its best documentary short subject prize to Mujaan by Chriss McKee.
For the passionate defence and luminous depiction of a little-known culture in a complex film structure harmoniously combining poetry and a rigorous approach; for the great cinematographic and human qualities that give this exceptional film its strength and depth, with the conviction that the Palawan people will prevail in their struggle to survive and pass along their heritage; the Séquences magazine jury awarded its best feature documentary prize to Basal Banar by Kanakan Balatingos.
Whispering in our Hearts by Mitch Torres
An attempt to reconquer historical memory. This documentary gives a blow-by-blow account of the massacre of an Indigenous population, an event whose very memory had been clouded by a complex web of deceit and silence for an entire century. For this complex panorama that does justice to oral tradition whose murmurs and whispers have proven more accurate than the dubious records in official Australian archives, Mitch Torres has earned the Séquences prize for best documentary.
Dr Bernard Chagnan Assiniwi Prize
An homage to Bernard Assiniwi whose body of work is a beacon that will long continue to shine its light on hearts and spirits. This prize crowns the exceptional achievement of a First Nations personality. Through this prestigious award, LandInSights wishes to spotlight the indefatigable work of men and women who have devoted their lives to preserving their original culture and nourishing it with the essential gift of their pride in belonging.
Nicole O’Bomsawin, curator of Abenaki Museum
Born in the early 1950s into the Anishnabe Nation, she experienced residential school as a small child, where she was subjected to physical, psychological and cultural violence. Married at the age of eighteen, she was barred entry to her village by the chief, as she had become a “white woman”. Not until 1985 did Aboriginal women married to non-Natives recover their legal status. Jacqueline Kistabish has worked tirelessly for the recognition of First Nations Women’s rights and has made the issue of violence her priority. For six years (1992-1999), Ms Kistabish served as president of Quebec Native Women. She has worked as a substance abuse counsellor at Wapan Centre in La Tuque and sits on the board an Aboriginal suicide prevention agency.
In an independent production, filmed on a very slender budget, an attentive camera moves with guile through the natural light and is sensitive to its subject matter as it captures the humdrum daily life of humble people. For the authenticity of images permeated by the sounds and odours of the spaces they describe, focusing on the characters they reveal, the jury of Montréal First Peoples’ Festival 2006 awards the best photography direction prize to Roldan Lozada for Gesture Down.
Ces coureurs ne couraient pas les concours mais parcouraient rieurs les sentiers nocturnes de leur adolescence. Mais les voici attrapés au vol par un documentaire d’auteur qui avec humour et intelligence prend les jeunes Atikamekw en flagrant délit d’existence. En bout de piste, pour son parcours sans faille, le jury de Présence autochtone 2006, accorde le prix jeunesse à Shanouk Newashish pour Coureurs de nuit.