Saturday, November 10, 2012

Alanis Obomsawin: The Real Deal

L to R, The Champ, Alanis Obomsawin, Storm Standing-On-The-Road

Serendipity is a wondrous thing and it brought Storm and me to the chance to spend time with 2 Aboriginal women filmmakers of immense talent this evening. This week W2 is hosting the 2nd annual Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival…I actually called in sick this morning with a stupendous head cold but when I discovered through social media that Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin would attend screening of her latest NFB documentary, The People of the Kattawapiskak River, I knew I would be there. But the added bonus was that the double feature included Ojibway director Darlene Naponse’s feature Every Emotion Costs. Darlene, it just so happens, is related to Storm (through her mama, again) and she and I were fellow artsy, writerly-type students at Okanagan artist Jeanette Armstrong’s beloved En’owkin Center at Penticton for 2 years and we are old pals you might say.

Plenty of times on this blog I’ve given high praise to the creative types or various others but I can’t think of anyone more deserving of accolades than Obomsawin. I’ve always felt this way about her ever since I first viewed her ’93 doc Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance which chronicles the 1990 Oka Crisis. Oka was of course a defining moment in history for Indians like me – Oka changed everything. And I am not the only one. The elegant and gracious director is now 80 years old (amazing) and I hounded Storm all day to commit to coming with me to the screening. The film was, as usual, powerful and heartfelt and I recommend any of her 30 films all based on subjects having to do with Native People and the majority of which have been produced by the National Film Board. This woman holds several honorary doctorates; a Governor General’s Award and is an Officer of the Order of Canada. She is supremely dedicated and so clearly loves our people that I never miss a chance to hear her speak. She is the real deal.
L to R, The Champ, Storm, (film maker) Suzi Bekkattla, (Director) Darlene Naponse

Naponse’s film is an emotionally charged piece on grief, healing and the complexity of relationships. Her film is lush and visually crafted on a script she wrote and produced (all while holding down a band-council position) at Whitefish Lake 1st Nation, Ontario where it was shot (it was a trip whispering to Storm during the film: hey, that’s your relative on the left of the screen). Back in the day, Darlene was always shooting and writing, shooting and writing and you just knew she possessed the determination to go wherever it was she intended. I am so proud of and for her.

Ironic and lucky for me that I should wake this morning discouraged that my previously oncoming sniffles had become a full-on ragin’ sneeze orgy, only to be now hitting the sack fed and fortified by the healing power of art…and great company.

© 2012 Champsteen Publishing.

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