First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition

If you haven’t yet heard about this awesome series going on in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, you’re missing out!  First Peoples Cinema: 1500 Nations, One Tradition, is a series of screenings celebrating the work of indigenous, aboriginal and First Nations filmmakers from four countries.

Included in this series is not only one of my favorite films, Eagle vs. Shark, by New Zealand Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi (Boy), starring Jemaine Clement (“Flight of the Conchords”) and the amazing Loren Horsley (see photo below), but also includes four films by the late Maori woman filmmaker, Merata Mita, and “Choke” by Metis filmmaker and actress Michelle Latimer who did an interview with Her Film in the spring of 2011.  You can read a lovely tribute to Merata Mita by Marian Evans on her blog, Wellywood Woman.

This is the “largest first peoples film series ever seen in North America.”  It kicked off on June 21 and runs until August 11, 2012.

One of my favorite actors, Academy Award-nominated Graham Greene, gave a talk on June 25 about his career in film, television and theatre.  There will be a lot of screenings, including a sidebar retrospective series called “First Peoples: Reclaimed Visions,” with screenings introduced by such cinematic luminaries as Graham Greene and filmmaker Chris Eyre (Smoke Signals, Skins, The American Experience: We Shall Remain, Hide Away). 

The program spans Canada, the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, and “presents an unprecedented survey of the work of First Peoples filmmakers.”


The film program includes Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (introduced by Alanis Obomsawin, honored recently by the Female Eye Film Festival in Toronto), Smoke Signals introduced by Chris Eyre, Patu! introduced by Heperi Mita (son of the late Merata Mita), Bran Nue Dae by Rachel Perkins, The Orator by Tusi Tamasese (first feature ever made in the Samoan language), Mohawk Girls by Tracey Deer, and many more, including several shorts programs.

For complete information, visit the Toronto International Film Festival’s website at If you attend any screenings in this series, please leave a comment letting me know what you saw and what you thought of it!

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