August 9, 2016 – Winnipeg – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson’s National Film Board of Canada documentary this river has received the Coup de coeur du jury award at the 2016 Festival Présence autochtone/Montréal First Peoples Festival, with MacPherson on hand in Montreal to accept the award on August 8.
Written and directed by Métis writer Katherena Vermette and fellow Winnipeg filmmaker Erika MacPherson, this river is a 20-minute documentary offering an Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who has disappeared. this river is produced by Alicia Smith and executive-produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio.
“I’m humbled by the generosity and grace of Winnipeg’s Drag the Red community, and honoured that they welcomed us to witness and document their crucial work. I’m buoyed by the incredible skill and camaraderie of our all-women filmmaking crew. And I’m grateful to work for Canada’s public producer―a place where this kind of storytelling, from these kinds of perspectives, is valued and encouraged,” said producer Alicia Smith.
On October 5, this river will have its Winnipeg premiere starting at 7 p.m. at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, as part of “The Decolonizing Lens,” a film screening and discussion series co-organized by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Manitoba. The film was selected to screen at the gallery by curator Jaimie Isaac. The evening will be moderated by producer Alicia Smith.
About the film
Kyle Kematch and Katherena Vermette have both experienced the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Kyle has a sister who went missing over five years ago. He now works with Drag the Red, a volunteer organization that searches the Red River for clues relating to missing members of the Indigenous community. Katherena is a poet and writer whose work stems from a family tragedy that happened over 20 years ago. Though their stories are different, they each exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something.
About the directors
Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction and children’s literature. Her first book, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and was the 2015 selection for On the Same Page, Manitoba’s province-wide book club. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies. In addition to co-directing this NFB doc, she is releasing a novel this year, entitled The Break. Vermette lives, works and plays in Winnipeg.
Erika MacPherson’s video art and documentary films have screened at festivals and galleries internationally. She recently completed this river, which she edited, co-wrote and co-directed for the NFB, and is currently in post-production on a film about her settler heritage. Erika makes her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty One territory.
Montréal First Peoples Festival
Winnipeg Art Gallery
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Women’s and Gender Studies Program
University of Manitoba
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca