“Art is integral to the strength of our society,” explains Christine Sokaymoh Frederick, executive director and producer of Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival. “As one of our Elders phrased it, ‘(Art is a) participatory process built into our ceremonies to communicate or express our humanity’.”
Founded in 1993, the festival was designed with the intention of honouring indigenous artists and has evolved into an environment that not only accomplishes that but creates an artistic infrastructure — artists can connect through the society as well as receive training in arts, culture, and festival operations.
This year’s festival features over 30 films, including an array of local and national works as well as some entries from Latin America. The organization has its own in-house curator of international film, Antonio Coello, and he will be providing a retrospective of documentary film in the Friday evening lineup.
Saturday features a compilation of short films, including a film by Coty Savard called Peace River Rising. Set in Fort St. John, B.C., the film examines the “connection between violence against indigenous women and violence against the land,” as stated by the official program on the Dreamspeakers website.
Also featured is a screening of the digitally remastered 1994 film We Were Warriors, based on Alan Duff’s bestselling novel.
Opening night of the festival this year is also the awards ceremony. This ordering of events provides an opportunity for filmgoers to experience the festival’s most awarded and buzzed about films during their limited screenings. Come early to any screening and check out the new video gallery in the lobby of Metro Cinema. The installation is designed for more intimate viewing of an extensive collection of short films.
For a complete listing of events and screenings, and to view the 2017 program, please visit dreamspeakers.org.
A prominent area of focus this year is the “Youth Day” activities, which take place at Boyle Street Plaza on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017. Youth are given the opportunity to work with 14 film industry professionals to produce a promotional video. The Dreamspeakers organization seeks to become a leading resource for “aboriginal youth to learn to make their voices heard,” according to the festival website. Registration for the event is $50, and anyone interested in attending is asked to register prior to the event at dreamspeakers.org.
Dreamspeakers Indigenous Film Festival runs Sept. 20-23, 2017, at the Metro Cinema. Tickets are $15 for most films, with a two-for-one date night promotion on Friday, Sept. 22.