200+ Films by Indigenous Directors Now Free to View Online: A New Archive Launched by the National Film Board of Canada

The strug­gles of First Nations peo­ples in Cana­da have loomed large in the news, show­ing a far harsh­er side of a coun­try Amer­i­cans tend to car­i­ca­ture as a land of bland nice­ness, hock­ey fan­dom, and social­ized med­i­cine. Huge num­bers of miss­ing and mur­dered indige­nous women, high rates of sui­cide, a mul­ti­tude of health crises, and—as in the U.S.—the ongo­ing encroach­ment onto Indige­nous lands by tox­ic pipelines and oil­sands devel­op­ment…..

As with issues affect­ing oth­er belea­guered com­mu­ni­ties across the globe, suf­fer­ing from the con­tin­ued depre­da­tions of colo­nial­ism and cap­i­tal­ism, these prob­lems can seem so over­whelm­ing that we don’t know how to begin to under­stand them. As always, the arts offer a way in—through human­iz­ing por­traits and inti­mate rev­e­la­tions, through detailed and com­pas­sion­ate sto­ries, through cre­ativ­i­ty, humor, and beau­ty.

In March of this year, the Nation­al Film Board of Cana­da launched an “exten­sive online library of over 200 films by Indige­nous direc­tors,” reports the CBC, “part of a three-year Indige­nous Action Plan to ‘rede­fine’ the NFB’s rela­tion­ship with Indige­nous peo­ples.” You can read the NFB’s plan here, a response to “the work and rec­om­men­da­tions of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion of Cana­da.”

Their free online film col­lec­tion is search­able by sub­ject, direc­tor, or Indige­nous peo­ple or nation, writes Native News Online, and “many of the films in this col­lec­tion are cur­rent­ly being screened in com­mu­ni­ties right across Cana­da as part of the #Aabizi­ing­washi (#WideAwake) Indige­nous cin­e­ma screen­ing series.”

Some of the high­lights of the col­lec­tion include Ala­nis Obomsawin’s The Peo­ple of the Kat­tawapiskak Riv­er (top), a 2012 doc­u­men­tary that Judith Schuyler, of the Toron­to-based Imag­i­ne­NA­TIVE film orga­ni­za­tion, describes as “high­light­ing the gov­ern­ment, the dia­mond mines and the sky­rock­et­ing freight costs as the con­tribut­ing fac­tors keep­ing the [Kat­tawapiskak] com­mu­ni­ty in impov­er­ished third world con­di­tions.” Below it, see Lumaa­ju­uq, a beau­ti­ful­ly-ani­mat­ed short 2010 film by Alethea Arnaquq-Bar­il that tells the Inu­it sto­ry of “The Blind Man and the Loon.”

Fur­ther up, see First Stories—Two Spir­it­ed, a 2007 film by Sharon A. Des­jar­lais that film­mak­er Bret­ten Han­nam describes as “a mes­sage of hope and heal­ing not only for two-spir­it peo­ple, but for all indige­nous peo­ple,” and, just above, Den­nis Allen’s CBQM, a doc­u­men­tary about a radio sta­tion in Fort McPher­son, North­west Ter­ri­to­ries, which ImagineNative’s Jason Ryle describes as “a ten­der, inti­mate por­trait of a north­ern com­mu­ni­ty.”

Native News Online and the CBC list sev­er­al oth­er rec­om­men­da­tions from the col­lec­tion, or you can sim­ply dive in and start watch­ing here. Also, check out this crash course on ris­ing Indige­nous film­mak­ers. And if at any point you feel inspired to don the garb of a First Nations peo­ple and hit the clubs or music fes­ti­vals, well, maybe heed the ultra-short pub­lic ser­vice announce­ment, “Naked Island—Hipster Head­dress,” below, and “Just Don’t Do It.”

via @sheerly

Relat­ed Con­tent:

265 Free Doc­u­men­taries Online 

1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, etc. 

An Archive of 20,000 Movie Posters from Czecho­slo­va­kia (1930–1989)

Mar­tin Scors­ese Cre­ate a List of 38 Essen­tial Films About Amer­i­can Democ­ra­cy

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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