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network 08/02/2016 - 01:00PM

Cinema Politica launches its First Peoples, First Screens program

Cinema Politica is thrilled to announce the launch of our First Peoples, First Screens sidebar program. FPFS showcases contemporary Indigenous Canadian political filmmaking, including documentary, animation, experimental films, and genre fiction, ranging in length from under two minutes to over two hours, made all across the country.

The response to the FPFS Call for Submissions was tremendous, and Cinema Politica’s programmers collaborated with indigenous filmmakers and activists such as Tracey DeerAlethea Arnaquq-Baril and Alanis Obomsawin to review the 140+ FPFS submitted titles. It was obvious from early in the selection process that, in addition to an already-solid roster of long films, FPFS would boast one of the strongest collections of short films ever assembled by Cinema Politica in a single program. 

The selection committee therefore decided to curate 20+ of their favorite titles into four thematically related clusters, each showcasing one or two longer titles which are placed in conversation with some accompanying short films. Each cluster is the length of a normal full CP screening, and all five clusters are available immediately throughout the CP Network.  

FPFS will launch at Concordia University tonight (Feb 7th) with Indigenous scholar Heather Igloliorte, Indigenous media artists Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, and Nakuset (bios on all three below).

Cinema Politica will also host an online short film sidebar, which will highlight many of the companion films from the main clusters, as well as other FPFS films which could be shown in conjunction with any of the main clusters. The online shorts sidebar will be available shortly.

Important topics, such as the former residential school system, territorial sovereignty, and environmental destruction, inevitably come up throughout the clusters. By organizing the clusters around themes, rather than by individual topics, each FPFS cluster offers a unique perspective on the often complicated and intertwined conditions of indigenous experience. 

The Clusters 

Histories Reclaimed  (Five films, 112 minutes)

This cluster’s films share neglected histories of indigenous experience in eastern Canada and imagine new ways of reconciling painful pasts with uncertain futures. Zacharias Kunuk and Neil Diamond’s INUIT CREE RECONCILIATION documents a modern commemoration ceremony for the historical resolution of settler-instigated conflicts between Quebec’s Inuit and Cree communities. NUTAK: MEMORIES OF A RESETTLEMENT tells the story of the forced 1948 relocation of over 100 Mushuau Innu from their traditional homes in northern Labrador. These two mid-length films are accompanied by animated and documentary shorts that further engage with the ongoing reclamation of indigenous history, from the protests and blockades of Réal Junior Leblanc’s BLOCUS 138 to the land-defense of Mélissa Mollen Dupuis’ NANAPUSH ET LA TORTUE.

Roots Remain (Seven films, 92 minutes)

Janelle Wookey’s TREADING WATER uses the flood-displaced communities near Lake Winnipeg to condemn the Canadian government’s historical neglect of indigenous peoples. This moving portrait of the families that must wait for years for the housing promised to them by a hypocritical government - while being forbidden to build such housing for themselves – must be seen to be believed.  TREADING WATER is joined by short documentaries like Sipi Flamand’s ONICKAKW! RÉVEILLEZ-VOUS! and Mélissa Mollen Dupuis’ NANAPUSH ET LA TORTUE, which underscore the need for communal self-determination in the face of a government which cares little for their land and its people. 

By The North  (Five films, 101 minutes)

In the wake of the controversial screening of Dominic Gagnon’s OF THE NORTH at the 2015 RIDM Festival, Cinema Politica decided that one of its FPFS clusters should revolve around self-produced works by northern indigenous filmmakers. Of all the FPFS filmmakers to reflect on the cultural and political experiences of Canada’s indigenous peoples, we are proud to announce that this cluster’s southern-most filmmaker hails from northern Saskatchewan. Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s TUNNIIT: RETRACING THE LINES OF INUIT TATTOOS is a compelling cinematic essay on the contemporary preservation of Inuit craftsmanship, language, and traditions, after decades of attempted cultural genocide lead by Christian missionaries and residential schools. This heartfelt and informative documentary is joined by several short films the wake of cultural loss, such as Mar Y Sol’s sombre SAYACHAPIS. 

Art and Determination (Eight films, 96 minutes)

This cluster is organized around the use of dance as a means of cultural preservation, expression, and revival. At the heart of this cluster is Shane Belcourt’s KAHAWI, a behind-the-scenes look at Toronto’s all-indigenous Kahawi Dance Theatre, where traditional dances and stories merge stylistically with modern dance and contemporary performance technologies. Rounding out this sidebar are poetic experimental documentaries, like Wayne Wapeemukwa’s BALMORAL HOTEL, and personal reflections on bodies, motion, and culture like in James McDougall’s THE ROUTES, and the ferocious revenge fantasy of Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ A RED GIRL’S REASONING .

Aside from these newly acquired titles, we are also honoured to continue to circulate many other films by indigenous artists, including SOL, TRICK OR TREATY?, GENTLY WHISPERING THE CIRCLE BACK, UPROOTED GENERATION.

Cinema Politica would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the development and creation of FPFS, and we are truly proud to be able to offer such a powerful program to our local chapters. 

If you have any questions about FPFS or the clusters, feel free to contact either our Network Coordinator, Anna Pringle, at, or our Programming Coordinator, Dan Leberg, at




Heather IgloliorteHEATHER IGLOLIORTE (Inuit, Nunatsiavut Territory of Labrador) is an Assistant Professor of Aboriginal art history at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec. Heather's teaching and research interests center on Inuit and other Native North American visual and material culture, circumpolar art studies, performance and media art, the global exhibition of Indigenous arts and culture, and issues of colonization, sovereignty, resistance and resilience.

Alethea Arnaquq-BarilALETHEA ARNAQUQ-BARIL is an Inuit filmmaker from the Canadian arctic where she runs Unikkaat Studios Inc. In her award-winning APTN documentary TUNNIIT: RETRACING THE LINES OF INUIT TATTOOS  (ImagineNATIVE 2011 premiere) Alethea traveled across the arctic to speak with elders about Inuit tattoo practices and the causes of their near disappearance, before getting her own traditional face tattoos.Currently, Alethea is directing ANGRY INUK (NFB co-production in association with EyeSteelFilm) a feature doc for broadcast on Superchannel about how Inuit are coming up with new and provocative ways to deal with international seal hunting controversies. 

NakusetNAKUSET, the Executive Director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montréal, is Cree from Lac la Ronge, Saskatchewan. She has three beautiful boys, Kistin, Mahkisis and Mahihkan. She was adopted by a Jewish family in Montréal and draws on her adoptee experience for insight on her work advocating for the Aboriginal children in care. She is the co-president of the Montréal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network.  Her most recent accomplishment include  creating, producing and hosting the television series “Indigenous Power”, as well as being voted “Woman of the Year” by the Montreal Council of Women.  Nakuset  is dedicated to improving the lives of urban aboriginals.


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