Indigenous Film & Documentary

The Necessities of Life (French: Ce qu’il faut pour vivre; Inuktitut: Inuujjutiksaq)

A 2008 film directed by Benoît Pilon. (French Language)

The film uses the 1950s-era tuberculosis epidemic in the Far North as its starting point. The spread of the disease forced many Inuit to go to various Canadian cities for treatment. Tiivii (Natar Ungalaaq; Atanarjuat: the Fast Runner) is taken to a sanatorium in Quebec City, from Baffin Island July 1952. Uprooted, far from his loved ones and faced with a completely alien world, he finds himself unable to communicate with anyone.

When his nurse, Carole (Éveline Gélinas) realizes that Tiivii’s illness is not the most serious threat to his well-being, she arranges to have a young orphan, Kaki (Paul-André Brasseur), transferred to the institution. The boy is also sick, but has experience of both worlds and speaks both languages. By sharing his culture with Kaki and opening it up to others, Tiivii rediscovers his pride and energy.

Although this is a story that contains hopelessness, terror, confusion and desperation, it is also extraordinarily warm, humorous and beautiful.

CBC’s 8th Fire TV Series

Aboriginal Peoples, Canada and the Way Forward

A great website with documentaries, video clips, radio programs, interviews, maps, reading lists and more. I’m only beginning to explore, but it seems like a huge resource.

APTN (Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network)

APTN offers a variety of programming related to Aboriginal peoples, including documentaries, news magazines, dramas, entertainment specials, children’s series, movies, sports events, educational programs and more. APTN’s network programming is c. 56% English, 16% French, and 28% Aboriginal languages.

Although much of the programming is pretty low budget, there is some really interesting content.

Indigenous Cinema, The National Film Board

This is an extensive online library of over 200 films by Indigenous directors — part of a three-year Indigenous Action Plan to “redefine” the NFB’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.

A useful CBC article offers six picks to get you started.

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