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Seven Indigenous works from the NFB featured at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ award-winning Seen Through Woman Productions/NFB feature doc Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy presented along with short documentary and animation.


September 13, 2021 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Audiences across Canada will be able to share in powerful Indigenous storytelling, including seven National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produced and co-produced works, as the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (October 19–24) offers six days of online programming.

Winner of the Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award and Canadian Feature Documentary Award at Hot Docs, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy (Seen Through Woman Productions/NFB) witnesses radical and profound change in the Kainai First Nation in Southern Alberta, a Blackfoot community facing the impacts of substance use and a drug-poisoning epidemic.

Six short NFB films will also be presented:

Feature documentary

Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (125 min)
Co-produced by Seen Through Woman Productions and the NFB
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/kimmapiiyipitssini-the-meaning-of-empathy

A member of the Kainai First Nation and the Sámi in Norway, Tailfeathers creates an intimate portrait as community members active in addiction and recovery, first responders and medical professionals implement harm reduction to save lives in the Kainai First Nation. Contextualized within the historical and contemporary impacts of settler colonialism, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy draws a connecting line between the effects of colonial violence on Blackfoot land and people and the ongoing substance-use crisis.

Awards: Emerging Canadian Filmmaker Award and Rogers Audience Award for Canadian Feature Documentary, Hot Docs 2021; Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Director, DOXA 2021

Short films

Evan’s Drum by Ossie Michelin (14 min)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/evans-drum

A Montreal-based Inuk freelance journalist from North West River, Labrador, Ossie Michelin follows a young boy and his mother, who share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong. Produced through the Labrador Documentary Project, which supports Indigenous storytelling by working with first-time Labrador Inuit filmmakers to create and distribute Inuit stories from Inuit perspectives.

Honour to Senator Murray Sinclair by Alanis Obomsawin (29 min)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/honour-to-senator-murray-sinclair

As the Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Senator Murray Sinclair was a key figure in raising global awareness of the atrocities of Canada’s residential school system. In her latest film, Alanis Obomsawin shares the powerful speech the Senator gave when he accepted the WFM-Canada World Peace Award, interspersing the heartbreaking testimonies of former students imprisoned at residential schools. A member of the Abenaki Nation, Obomsawin has directed 53 films to date in a distinguished career spanning 54 years.

K’i Tah Amongst the Birch by Melaw Nakehk’o (10 min)
Part of The Curve, a collection of social distancing stories that bring us together

Filmmaker/activist Melaw Nakehk’o has spent the pandemic with her family at a remote land camp in the Northwest Territories, “getting wood, listening to the wind, staying warm and dry, and watching the sun move across the sky.” In documenting camp life—activities like making fish leather and scraping moose hide—she anchors the COVID experience in a specific time and place.

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again by Courtney Montour (34 min)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/mary-two-axe-earley-i-am-indian-again

Mary Two-Axe Earley: I Am Indian Again shares the powerful story of Mary Two-Axe Earley, who fought for more than two decades to challenge sex discrimination against First Nations women embedded in Canada’s Indian Act, and became a key figure in Canada’s women’s rights movement. Using never-before-seen archival footage and audio recordings, Mohawk filmmaker Courtney Montour engages in a deeply personal conversation with the late Mohawk woman, who challenged sexist and genocidal government policies that stripped First Nations women and children of their Indian status when they married non-Indian men.

Award: Best Director, 2021 Weengushk International Film Festival

Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics by Terril Calder (19 min 22 s)
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/meneath

Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics dives deeply into the innate contrast between the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Sacred Teachings, as embodied in the life of a precocious Métis baby. Convinced she’s soiled and destined for Hell, Baby Girl receives teachings that fill her with strength and pride, and affirm a path towards healing.

Métis artist Terril Calder was born in Fort Frances, Ontario, and is now based in Toronto. Her latest film, Meneath (“island” in Anishinaabemowin), is a darkly beautiful stop-motion tour de force, unearthing a hauntingly familiar world that illuminates the bias of colonial systems. The film features the voice of Gail Maurice and was edited by Jeff Barnaby, with Jason Ryle as consulting producer.

Nalujuk Night by Jennie Williams (13 min) | ONTARIO PREMIERE
Press kit: mediaspace.nfb.ca/epk/nalujuk-night

Inuk filmmaker Jennie Williams plunges audiences directly into the action in this bone-chilling black-and-white short documentary about a winter night like no other. Every January 6, from the dark of the Nunatsiavut night, the Nalujuit appear on the sea ice. They walk on two legs, yet their faces are animalistic, skeletal and otherworldly as they approach their destination: the Inuit community of Nain. Produced through the Labrador Documentary Project, which supports Indigenous storytelling by working with first-time Labrador Inuit filmmakers to create and distribute Inuit stories from Inuit perspectives.

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  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries, auteur animation, interactive stories, and participatory experiences. Since 1968, the NFB has produced over 300 works by First Nations, Métis and Inuit filmmakers—an unparalleled collection that pushes past dominant narratives and provides Indigenous perspectives to Canadian and global audiences. The NFB is implementing an action plan with commitments that include devoting a minimum of 15 percent of overall production spending to Indigenous-led productions and making these works more accessible via Indigenous Cinema, a destination on NFB.ca.