Indigenous youth from the Montreal area are getting a taste of what it would be like to be in the film industry, screening their short films at the Māoriland Film Festival in Ōtaki, New Zealand.
“I feel like I’m getting a jump on, you know, the whole experience of being a filmmaker,” said Jarrett Jacobs, who is Kanien’kehá:ka.
The short film he directed in October screened at last week’s festival.
The films were made as part of a cultural exchange called Through Our Lens that sends Māori youth to other Indigenous communities around the world to collaborate and make short films.
The program’s latest stop was in Kahnawà:ke, a Kanien’kehá:ka community south of Montreal, in October where youth in the Montreal area participated. The 13 youth made three films over two days, which were shown at a community screening at the end of the workshop.
It was the first time the program had visited North America.
Jacobs’s film Wannabe is about a serial killer who is bad at hunting his victims.
“It’s a great opportunity to network with people making new connections and hopefully find a path into the industry,” said Jacobs, who has a dream of writing horror movies.
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Anika Nochasak, who is Inuk from Nain, directed a short film called Indigiqueer Stories, a documentary about five two-spirit youth.
“I think right now we’re in a time where people are really starting to want to listen to Indigenous stories and there’s a lot more opportunities for our generation,” said Nochasak.
Nochasak said her dream is to make documentaries.
“I just know that there’s going to be so many more opportunities for us to do film in the future, so I feel really supported,” said Nochasak.
Emma Thompson, who is Kanien’kehá:ka, directed a film called Youth, about a young woman who learns her culture to feel like she can attend a social event in her community.
She said getting this opportunity has opened her up to what could be possible for her future.
Courtney Montour, a Kanien:keha’ka filmmaker from Kahnawà:ke, hosted the program in her community. A total of 22 people travelled from Canada to New Zealand for the film festival, eight of whom were from a second community film workshop this fall.
“All their stories are in their own voices and that’s what’s most important,” said Montour.
Montour said the youth had an opportunity at the film festival to network with industry professionals, and connect with other Indigenous youth from around the world.
“This is a starting point for them and hopefully for building that filmmaking capacity,” said Montour.
The majority of the funding to send the group abroad came from the Canada Council of the Arts.