Thursday, 12 September 2013

Biindigaate Film Festival and Art Show

     In its fifth year this annual film festival and outreach program features 40 short films, a few feature films, a few documentaries, and an art exhibition at the Definitely Superior Art gallery. Locations for events vary. You can download a detailed program with all the times and locations, here: Biindigaate/Program.  
     The festival was put together by a group of film lovers made up of students, journalists and community members who saw the potential for film lovers and film-makers to get together and bring in films from all over the world. One of the organizers, James Monastyrski, say’s, “We hope the festival inspires young people to make films and get involved. All you need these days is a camera, a Mac, a good idea with a story, and you can make a film.” James is enthusiastic about the spirit and intent of the festival, which is sure to inspire. “These films are a mix of local, regional, and global films. We have films coming from across the world; Peru, Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, the U.S., and from all across Canada.”
          A couple generations ago European descendants to this land tried to beat out and replace the culture of the indigenous population. The indigenous might have lost their culture had it not been for one cultural aspect that was and is still stronger than that of our European descendants, their memory.
     As a distinct and much celebrated aspect of the heritage of indigenous cultures, storytelling lasted much longer in its oral tradition than it did for Europeans. Europeans invented technologies and laws that made memory unreliable, unwanted and unnecessary. As a result, Europeans also wrecked the sanctity and trust placed in those who held memories for wisdom, tradition, science, culture, etc. – the elderly.
     “Elders” is a term native peoples use with reverence, because the memories of elders can stretch back for many generations. European descendants use the term “elder” with some derision, where senility is most commonly associated with growing old.
     However, the differences in our cultures make for Variety, with a capital V. This diversity adds to the many ways we have of viewing our world, and the Biindigaate festival is certainly one way to let the light in, especially when we open our eyes and witness the lives of others. Although it can be difficult for some to look beyond entrenched stereotypes, attending a film festival such as this can do much more than entertain; it can bring people closer.
     Great examples of worthwhile indigenous productions in our region can be seen regularly on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. Incredible talents in music, acting, directing, singing, dancing, animation, etc. are featured and explode on the screen. The humour is unusual and surprising, the pacing different, the methods of storytelling often so subtle as to be mystical and at times unsettling. Even children’s animated cartoons, both traditional and computer generated, contain artistic elements that are at times as corny as our own, and yet simultaneously make deep humanistic statements. The variety is awesome.
     And variety is what you will get at the Biindigaate festival. These films come from people who are Navajo, Metis, Cree, Tewa, Six Nation, Tsilhqot’in Nation, Mapuche, Weenusk First Nation, Inupiat, Algonquin, and more, each with a story to tell.
     And if you haven’t already inferred from the above list, stories come from local talent and from as far away as Peru.
     The art show at the Definitely Superior Art Gallery features the multi-media work of Lisa Myers with two new media works and a performance. Louise Thomas of the Ahnishnabae Art Gallery will be showing an international collection of Aboriginal artists. The gala opening is on Friday the 27th, from 9 – 12pm. The show will be open from 12 – 6pm and runs till October 12. 

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