August 21, 2019 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada
Powerful, groundbreaking films by Indigenous and Alberta creators join works from across Canada as part of a strong selection at the 2019 Calgary International Film Festival (September 18–29).
The festival is hosting the much-anticipated Calgary debut of Edmonton filmmaker Tasha Hubbard’s award-winning nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (Downstream Documentary Productions/NFB in association with CBC DOCS and APTN), which has been playing to packed houses across Canada as part of its national theatrical release.
CIFF is also presenting the Western Canadian premiere of Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, the 53rd film by legendary director Alanis Obomsawin, as well as Alexandra Lazarowich’s short Lake, an innovative portrait of Métis fisherwomen in Northern Alberta.
Calgary born-and-raised Olympian Anastasia Bucsis is featured in Vancouver filmmaker Paul Émile d’Entremont’s Standing on the Line, which looks at LGBTQ2+ athletes fighting prejudice in sports. There’s also the entertaining and oh-so-timely feature Assholes: A Theory by distinguished Halifax director John Walker.
Three more powerful NFB shorts are making their Western Canadian premieres at CIFF: Jason Young’s Gun Killers, Chris Dainty’s loving multimedia elegy Shannon Amen, and The Procession, a collaboration between illustrator and graphic novel writer Pascal Blanchet and animator and filmmaker Rodolphe Saint-Gelais.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up (98 min.)
On August 9, 2016, a young Cree man named Colten Boushie died from a gunshot to the back of his head after entering Gerald Stanley’s rural property with his friends. The jury’s subsequent acquittal of Stanley captured international attention, raising questions about racism embedded within Canada’s legal system and propelling Colten’s family to national and international stages in their pursuit of justice. Winner of five awards to date including Best Canadian Feature at Hot Docs, Tasha Hubbard’s nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up weaves a profound narrative encompassing the filmmaker’s own adoption, the stark history of colonialism on the Prairies, and a transformative vision of a future where Indigenous children can live safely on their homelands.
nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up is produced by Tasha Hubbard and George Hupka for Downstream Documentary Productions, and Jon Montes and Bonnie Thompson for the NFB. The executive producers are David Christensen (NFB), Janice Dawe and Kathy Avrich-Johnson (Bizable Media).
Standing on the Line (Franchir la ligne) (80 min.)
In both amateur and professional sports, being gay remains taboo. Few dare to come out of the closet for fear of being stigmatized, and for many, the pressure to perform is compounded by a further strain: whether or not to affirm their sexual identity. Breaking the code of silence that prevails on the field, on the ice and in the locker room, Paul Émile d’Entremont’s latest feature takes a fresh and often moving look at some of our gay athletes, who share their experiences with the camera. They’ve set out to overcome prejudice in the hopes of changing things for the athletes of tomorrow.
D’Entremont is a Vancouver-based Acadian filmmaker who has directed five films with the NFB to date, including the Golden Sheaf Award-winning Reema, There and Back. Standing on the Line is produced by Christine Aubé, Jac Gautreau and Maryse Chapdelaine and executive produced by Michèle Bélanger and Dominic Desjardins for the Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie in Moncton.
Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger (66 min.)
Jordan River Anderson never got to live at home like most kids. Born with a genetic muscular disorder, he spent his first years in a Winnipeg hospital, far from his home on the Norway House Cree Nation Reserve. When he finally got clearance to move into a family setting, a dispute between federal and provincial authorities over costs would prevent the move. He died—in hospital—before his sixth birthday.
His story inspired the creation of “Jordan’s Principle”: a child-first principle that aims to ensure that First Nations children get equitable access to government-funded services. But while Jordan’s Principle was passed into law, many Indigenous parents still faced obstacles. Tracing the parallels between the lives of Jordan and another Indigenous child, Noah Buffalo-Jackson, the film chronicles a long legal fight that culminates with a powerful victory for Indigenous kids, their families and communities.
Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger completes Obomsawin’s seven-film cycle devoted to the rights of Indigenous children and peoples that began with The People of the Kattawapiskak River (2012).
Assholes: A Theory (81 min.)
With venomous social media, resurgent authoritarianism and rampant narcissism threatening to trash civilization as we know it, the time has come for John Walker’s Assholes: A Theory, inspired by Aaron James’ New York Times bestseller of the same name. Assholes investigates the breeding grounds of contemporary “asshole culture” and locates signs of civility in an otherwise rude-’n-nasty universe.
Honoured with a Focus On retrospective at the 2018 Hot Docs film festival, Walker is one of Nova Scotia’s most distinguished filmmakers. Assholes: A Theory is produced by John Walker and Ann Bernier for John Walker Productions Ltd. and by Annette Clarke for the NFB’s Quebec and Atlantic Studio in Halifax.
Lake (5 min.)
Filmed on location in Joussard, Alberta, Alexandra Lazarowich’s Lake riffs off classic verité cinema to craft a contemporary portrait of Métis women net-fishing. The film is inspired by the 1990 NFB short Minqon Minqon: Wosqotomn Elsonwagon (Shirley Bear: Reclaiming the Balance of Power), Catherine Martin’s look at Wolastoqiyik/Malecite artist Shirley Bear, known as Minqon Minqon (Rainbow Rainbow), who defies repressive colonial narratives with inspiring imagery of Indigenous womanhood.
Lazarowich is a Cree filmmaker whose acclaimed short doc Fast Horse received the Special Jury Prize for Directing at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She also served as creative director for the new Royal Alberta Museum. Lake was produced as part of Five Feminist Minutes 2019—a reboot of the landmark Studio D anthology series. The associate producer for Lake is Coty Savard with David Christensen as executive producer for the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton.
Gun Killers (10 min. 40 sec.)
Jason Young’s Gun Killers takes us into the rural, secluded paradise that retired blacksmiths John and Nancy Little call home. As the tranquil light of a typical day of harvesting vegetables descends into night, we experience the secret work that John and Nancy are sometimes called upon to undertake for the RCMP. Produced by Rohan Fernando through the Quebec and Atlantic Studio’s Re-Imagining Nova Scotia initiative, Gun Killers is the fourth NFB production for Young. The film is executive produced by Annette Clarke for the NFB in Halifax.
The Procession (Le cortège) (11 min.)
After Catherine’s fatal car accident, she speaks from the beyond to her grieving husband, Philip, who must endure the family ritual of the funeral. Co-directed by Pascal Blanchet and animator and filmmaker Rodolphe Saint-Gelais, The Procession is produced and executive produced by Julie Roy for the NFB’s French Program Animation Studio.
Shannon Amen (15 min.)
Based on the art of Shannon Jamieson, Shannon Amen unearths the frantic, passionate, and pained expressions of a young woman overwhelmed by guilt and anxiety as she struggles to reconcile her sexual identity with her religious faith. The film combines 2D animation with icemation—stop-motion animation that uses large-scale ice sculptures—and was written and directed by Jamieson’s friend, Chris Dainty, a filmmaker and member of the Canadian Ice Carvers Society who has created large-scale ice sculptures for Ottawa’s Winterlude. Shannon Amen is produced by Maral Mohammadian and executive produced by Michael Fukushima for the NFB’s English Program Animation Studio.
NEE-pa-wista-MAA-sowin – we (small group) will stand up for others (large group).
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailers, synopses: NFB at CIFF 2019 | Assholes: A Theory | Gun Killers | Five Feminist Minutes – Lake | Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger | nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up | Shannon Amen | Standing on the Line | The Procession
Calgary International Film Festival
Downstream Documentary Productions
John Walker Productions Ltd.