When I was invited to curate this program, I saw the opportunity to showcase the diversity of Indigenous voices in the western region of Turtle Island, primarily within the geo-political borders of what is known as British Columbia. In B.C., which is mostly unceded territories, there are close to 200 distinct Indigenous communities, with 30 different languages and close to 60 dialects. Beyond that, there are various Indigenous peoples, including Métis and Inuit who choose to live, study and work on these lands.
The visual storytellers/filmmakers in this programme come from the full spectrum, ranging from experienced filmmakers to the newly graduated from film school. While making selections, I agonized over the conventional genres of filmmaking and what they mean to the filmmakers themselves. I wondered from our Indigenous perspective, what and how would we categorize our visual storytelling? That said, I characterized the films under an expansive umbrella of “social, political, and cultural” concerns of Indigenous peoples, with sub-themes of “lands and waters” and “spiritual and personal experiences”.
The subject matter and aesthetic choices along with the techniques of how they told their stories was what captured my attention. I was reassured to see that their films are culturally congruent, which to me means their cultural knowledge and language(s) informed their productions. Although, some of these stories are painful to our communities, they do not come from the usual “damaged victim narrative” that is so often portrayed by the mainstream. Rather they speak to the strength and resilience of our peoples and communities.
- Dorothy Christian