November 21, 2023 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Over a legendary career spanning five decades, Abenaki filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin has chronicled the hopes and struggles of Indigenous Peoples in their historic fight for their rights.
She’s been an inspiration for generations of Indigenous creators and a trailblazer in women’s cinema since she began to make films at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) in 1967—receiving virtually every major Canadian honour for a lifetime of distinguished filmmaking and social activism that now totals an incredible 65 works.
Now 28 of those new and classic films are together for the first time, in the 12-disc DVD box set Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy, available for pre-order now at nfb.ca/alanislegacy.
As Canadians face difficult truths about their country’s colonial past and work towards reconciliation, the films in this collection offer an exclusive look at Alanis’s beginnings in cinema, her engagement in historic battles that are helping to transform the lives of Indigenous Peoples, and her dedication to Indigenous youth and the well-being of children, as well as her hope for the future.
Curated by Alanis herself, Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy includes seven never-before-seen bonuses and world premieres of four short films.
- Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy features a full-colour 44-page booklet with an introduction by Jason Ryle, International Programmer, Indigenous Cinema, at the Toronto International Film Festival.
- The box set is available in a home consumer version for $89.99, as well as an institutional version that includes public performance rights. It’s an invaluable learning resource for schools and organizations in remote and Northern communities—or for anyone with limited Internet access.
- Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy is the largest collection of films by Alanis Obomsawin on DVD and a unique opportunity for cinephiles to own a special part of Canada’s cultural history: a highly personal portrait of sweeping social, political and cultural changes for Indigenous Peoples over the last half century.
- A passionate mentor and educator all her life, Alanis has curated a lifetime of learning in one box set, helping viewers to understand and acknowledge the difficult realities and truths about the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
- The NFB’s Education team will also be supporting the launch of Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy with special resources available January 2024.
Inside the Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy box set
Titles in the 12-disc box set include:
- Alanis Obomsawin’s very first film at the NFB, the 1971 classic Christmas at Moose Factory;
- Her first feature-length documentary, the groundbreaking Mother of Many Children (1977), which created a space for Indigenous women’s stories and perspectives on the screen as a global feminist movement was taking shape;
- All seven films from her pivotal film cycle on the rights of Indigenous children and Peoples, which began in 2010 when Alanis conducted the first interviews for The People of the Kattawapiskak River (2012) and ended, on an optimistic note, with her award-winning Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger in 2019;
- Recent works from 2021 inspired by her extensive personal archives, such as the powerful Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair and Bill Reid Remembers;
- Plus four new works making their world premiere, including Wabano: The Light of the Day and The Spirit of the Tŝilhqot’in People Is Hovering Over the Supreme Court.
All titles are available in English and French, with four films featuring Cree version options.
- Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy will be officially introduced by Ms. Obomsawin at a special screening at the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) on November 22 at 7 p.m. at the NFB’s Alanis Obomsawin Theatre.
- With pre-orders available now at nfb.ca/alanislegacy, Alanis Obomsawin: A Legacy will begin shipping in December 2023.
About Alanis Obomsawin
A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished artists, Alanis Obomsawin has been a trailblazing champion of Indigenous storytelling and cinema over a legendary career that began at the NFB in 1967. Companion of the Order of Canada and laureate of both the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award and the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, Ms. Obomsawin has received more than 40 lifetime and career accolades, as well as 13 honorary degrees. She has directed 65 films to date that have amassed over 50 honours, including 15 awards for her 1993 landmark feature documentary on the 1990 Oka Crisis, Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. Six years before Oka, Alanis was present with her camera during Quebec police raids on the Restigouche Reserve to make Incident at Restigouche (1984), a film that she has said “encapsulated the idea of films being a form of social protest” and had a profound impact on her filmmaking practice. Born in New Hampshire on Abenaki territory, Alanis was brought by her mother to live on the Odanak reserve northeast of Montreal at the age of six months. She first came to the attention of NFB producers Joe Koenig and Bob Verrall in 1966, when she was the subject of a film by Ron Kelly for CBC-TV’s Telescope series. Also an acclaimed singer and visual artist, Alanis is the subject of an exhibition on her life and work, The Children Have to Hear Another Story, now touring Canadian cities.
“As Indigenous Peoples, we need to know our own history, which was kept hidden from us for so long. Education, and the well-being of our children, has always been at the heart of what I try to do. I chose these films for this box set because I think that together they offer a way to appreciate how far we have come as Indigenous Peoples and the great sacrifices that we have had to make during that struggle. Today I am also more hopeful than ever because of what our young people are doing, and I hope that people who watch these DVDs also come away with a sense of that hope, too.”
– Alanis Obomsawin
“The National Film Board of Canada is honoured to have been the creative home for Alanis Obomsawin for almost 60 years. As the NFB works to strengthen its relationship with Indigenous Peoples and produce works that advance truth and reconciliation, we are guided by the model and example that she has set. Alanis is truly a ‘mother of many children’ herself: a mentor and inspiration to generations of Indigenous people, and tirelessly devoted to young people. I am immensely grateful for our ongoing collaboration—and excited for what’s still to come.”
– Suzanne Guèvremont, NFB Commissioner
“Much has been said and discussed about Alanis’s legacy, which, it’s vital to point out, is still unfolding with every new film in her remarkable—and remarkably long—career as a director, producer, writer, singer, artist and activist. She is many things to many people, as all great leaders are. Her body of work is astonishing. With over 60 films already complete and with more in various stages of development, Alanis Obomsawin is unlike most screen storytellers from any nation on Earth.”
– Jason Ryle, International Programmer, Indigenous Cinema, Toronto International Film Festival
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French version here | Version française ici.