September 19, 2016 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is pleased to announce the September 30 theatrical release of Steve Patry’s feature documentary Waseskun, screening at the Cinémathèque québécoise in its original French and English version with French subtitles. The film was produced for the NFB by Nathalie Cloutier and Denis McCready.
While shooting his previous film, De prisons en prisons (nominated for a Jutra award for best feature documentary in 2015), Steve Patry learned about the Waseskun* Healing Center, an alternative detention centre run by Indigenous people for members of Indigenous communities.
In keeping with his filmmaking philosophy, Patry settled in at the centre—the only correctional healing lodge east of Manitoba—for an extended period of time. Over the course of a year, he filmed three days a month on location, sharing the rhythms and regulations of daily life for those incarcerated and determined to overcome their challenges as well as for the attentive staff. This approach allowed Patry to earn the confidence of the men, who freely and directly shared their thoughts with him.
The result of this unprecedented intimacy is a remarkable film in the true tradition of cinéma vérité. Each scene draws us into the unvarnished daily realities of life for these men, as they struggle—sometimes with themselves—to overcome their own suffering and history and find balance. The residents follow a treatment plan, guided by therapists who espouse a philosophy based on spirituality and Indigenous culture.
Waseskun opens a window into the lives of the members of a frequently misunderstood group of people. The documentary brings together Patry’s rigorous commitment to filmmaking with his rare sensitivity and ability to share the nuances and complexities of a unique and intense human experience—one in which hope and profound pain exist side by side.
After its preview screening at the Festival de cinéma de la Ville de Québec, Waseskun will begin a theatrical run at the Cinémathèque québécoise on September 30. The film be shown in its original version, with French and English dialogue and French subtitles.
*Waseskun is a Cree word that can be translated as “just after a storm, when the dark clouds begin to part, the blue sky appears, and the first rays of sunlight shine through.”
Online Screening Room: NFB.ca