April 26, 2017, Nuhaka, Aotearoa New Zealand

FILM WORKS FROM CANADA AND THE UNITED STATES will be a focus of the Wairoa Maori Film Festival this year. "This year, we continue our partnership with films festivals from 'Turtle Island' as the North American continent is known to the indigenous people of these lands," says Festival Director Leo Koziol.

Last year, the Asinabka Film & Media Art Festival of Ottawa, Canada, curated a programme of music-themed short films for the Wairoa Maori Film Festival. In 2017, they have curated "Year Zero" a collection of decidedly activist film works.

"As a collection of short films by Indigenous directors from Canada, and programmed by Indigenous curators, Year Zero is a subversive critique of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation," says Howard Adler and Christopher Wong of Asinabka.

While Canada celebrates its 150 th birthday, this is a complicated matter for Indigenous peoples in Canada. Year Zero includes films that challenge Canadian nationalism, films that highlight the extermination of the buffalo, films that show the horrors enacted on Indigenous children at residential schools, films that reveal the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, films that discuss racism, displacement, and the failure of the justice systems, and films that show the strength and resurgence of Indigenous peoples."

We are also proud to present a selection of films from Saskatchewan, in cooperation with the mispon film festival in Regina. Festival Director Leo Koziol traveled to mispon last December, and worked on a collaborative "two spirit" project with Howard Adler (of Asinabka) and Regina-based director Candy Renae Fox. The result is two films "Two Spirit Fry Bread" and "Two Spirit Tales" that will be screened at Wairoa this year.

Here is an image from the "Two Spirit Fry Bread" short film photo shoot:

Below are details from the "Year Zero" programme and other Canada / US indigenous short films screening at the Wairoa Maori Film Festival this year:

YEAR ZERO: A Subversive Critique of Canada 150

The "Year Zero" programme includes:

Ute Kanata (Here in Canada)

Virginie Michel (Innu) • 2015 • 2:27 • Canada • Innu Language
With a spin on the traditional Canadian National Anthem, here the “Ô Kanata“ of Virginie Michel is sung in the Innu Language, and demands that the presence of Canada’s First Nations be recognized in the national narratives.

Craig Commanda (Algonquin) • 2016 • 3:30 • Canada • Anishinaabe
The beauty of the natural world is captured in extreme close-ups, with narration in the Algonquin Language.

Sisters and Brothers
Kent Monkman (Cree) • 2016 • 3:44 • Canada • No Dialogue
In a pounding critique of Canada’s colonial history, this short film draws parallels between the annihilation of the bison in the 1890s and the devastation inflicted on the Indigenous population by the residential school system. Part of the Souvenir series, it’s one of four films by First Nations filmmakers that remix archival footage to address Indigenous identity and representation, reframing Canadian history through a contemporary lens.

Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk) • 7:00 • 2016 • Canada
Sheena, a lost teenager, is placed in a girl’s home. Seemingly forgotten and yearning for a life of freedom, she runs away, only to be picked up by a dangerous stranger. The directorial debut by actor Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs is a sober commentary on missing Indigenouswomen.

Gods Acre
Kelton Steopanowich (Métis) • 2016 • 15 min. Canada
Lorne Cardinal stars in this unsettling, powerful short of a man determined to protect his land at all cost. As the water slowly rises in a frighteningly familiar future, the man must choose to abandon all that he knows or give in to the rising tide.

Four Faces of the Moon
Amanda Strong (Michif) •12:56 • 2016 • Canada
Four Faces of the Moon is an animated short told in four chapters, exploring the reclamation of language and Nationhood and peeling back the layers of Canada's colonial history.

Wake Up!
Jessie Short (Métis)• 2015 • 5:58 • Canada • English
\A woman transforms into Louis Riel in an exploration of Métis identity


From Up North
Trudy Stewart - 2017 - 13:25 - Canada - English
From Up North is a short, poetic, documentary on the director's experience recording Indian Residential School survivors' stories for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 

Why We’re Here: Stories From Standing Rock
Candy Renae Fox (Cree) • 2016 • 7:30 • Canada/USA • English
A short documentary about the Two-Spirit Camp at Standing Rock.

Terril Calder (Métis) - 2016 - 15:01 - Canada - English
The power of Indigenous storytelling in between the lines of colonial history.

She is Water
Darlene Naponse (Anishinaabe) - 2016 - 13:00 - Canada
Mary, an Ojibway teenager is taken by a stranger after a day out with her friends. She returns to Mother Earth and the Natural World seeks retribution.

In The Beginning Was Water and Sky
Ryan Ward - 2017 - 13:28 - USA
A haunting and visually stunning fairytale that blends fantasy and real life events. Two Native American children navigate the dark corners of American history trying to find their way back to a home that may be lost forever.

Our thanks go out to the Asinabka and mispon film festivals.