Saturday! Oh man, did I ever agonize over Saturday—so many amazing movies to see, and all happening at the same time! Friday night I carefully went over my program again and again, weighing my choices, trying to pick and choose films that I thought might give me the broadest range of experience. In the end I gave up and went to bed, figuring I would make a gut decision when I got to the theatre. Turns out, I didn’t need to! The choice was taken out of my hands when I got to the TIFF Bell Lightbox and found out that both Water Journey AND Young Lakota were sold out!!!
Disappointing, but it serves me right for not getting my tickets ahead of time! Lesson learned—it’s going in my growing rule book for next year, along with “make SURE you have a program” (I can’t tell you how often I look through that thing, and how much easier it’s made my life), and “free events often equal free food!”
Luckily there were still plenty of films to choose from!
First up was Part 2 of the International Spotlight on the Mapuche. I was lucky to catch Part 1 yesterday, and was excited to learn more about these amazing people—though I really feel that even after seeing multiple films on the subject, no one could ever fully know or understand what the Mapuche have suffered and survived, and what they are experiencing today.
Before the screening, director Francisco Huichaqueo had an Elder from the Anishinaabe people (forgive me if this is incorrect—I wasn’t able to quite catch her introduction!) to bless his film. It was incredibly moving, the entire theatre silent as her powerful voice carried through the room, and she spoke of eagle and the condor coming together to sanctify and protect the film and the people depicted within it.
I can’t really find words to describe how amazing both Reunion of the Body by Huichaqueo, and Cristian Jure’s We Shall Overcome Ten Times were…they couldn’t be more different in style, but both were incredibly affecting, funny and somber in turn, both with a strident political message that shocked and grounded each story resolutely in present day. As Pascuale Pichun, the protagonist of Ten Times states: “Every day things happen that must be shown.”
Images from these films will stay with me for a long time. I feel so fortunate to have seen them, and I only hope more and more people are able to experience them in the future.
Next I caught the Mothers and Daughters Shorts Program II, which was a complete delight. The films were in turn funny and sweet, poignant, though provoking, heartbreaking, full of both love and sorrow, and with an over-riding theme of family, and motherhood, and the connections we make with those who give us life, who raise us, and who leave an indelible impression on us in their wake. I laughed often during the program, and am not ashamed to admit that I cried huge salty tears during Lindsay McIntyre’s Her Silent Life. What an amazing experience—thank you so all the filmmakers who made themselves vulnerable enough to present such beautiful work!
Lastly, there was the Smoke Traders presentation, preceded by an extraordinarily funny short film Da Smoke Shack. Kaniehtiio Horn is seriously hilarious, and needs to be in more films as she in infinitely watchable, and effortlessly endearing. Smoke Traders was less humorous, but still fascinating, as I really knew nothing about the cigarette industry on the reservations going into the screening, and so found the film really compelling. Director Jeff Dorn presented the story with such clarity—even I could get it, with no background knowledge—and chose to follow such interesting characters that the film seemed to slip by in a matter of minutes, it was so watchable.
All in all, a really unbelievable day. I hope everyone’s having as much fun as I am! See you all tonight at the closing gala and awards show!!!