YEAR ZERO Short films

Presented by Asinabka Film & Media Festival, Ottawa, Canada

"Year Zero alludes to many things, including film history, literature, music, and pop-culture; it references “Germany, Year Zero” a 1948 film set in devastated post-World War II Berlin; it references “Panic in Year Zero!” a 1962 film about the aftermath of a nuclear attack on Los Angeles; it references industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails 2007 concept album based on a post-apocalyptic earth; it references “Year Zero” a 2012 science fiction book in which aliens mark the beginning of a new era.  It also alludes to the apocalyptic nature of colonial violence in Canada and the ongoing neo-colonialism of Canada.  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. While Canada celebrates its 150th 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." - Howard Adler & Christopher Wong, Asinabka Film & Media Festival, Ottawa, Canada


  • Ute Kanata/Here in Canada (Virginie Michel)
  • Macrocosmic (Craig Commanda)
  • Sisters and Brothers (Kent Monkman)
  • Heritage Minutes: Chanie Wenjack (Shane Belcourt)
  • Stolen (Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs)
  • Oú Sont tes Plumes/Where are your feathers (Widia Larivière & Mélanie Lumsdem)
  • A Red Girl’s Reasoning (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) (screens Sunday at Morere)
  • God’s Acre (Kelton Steopanowich)
  • Four Faces of the Moon (Amanda Strong)
  • Why We’re Here (Candy Renae Fox)
  • Wake Up (Jesse Short)

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.

Virginie Michel is an Innu woman from the Mani-Utenam community who worked several years with children. In her free time, she likes to create: crafts, songs, nursery rhymes. Her project is to elaborate an interactive dictionary for early childhood. She also follows actively the political evolution of her people: aware of the future of First Nations languages, she tries to promote the recognition of these tongues, and in particular, the national hymn in native language. Now that she is freer, she can pursue an old dream.


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.

Craig Commanda is an Anishnabe musician and filmmaker from Kitigan Zibi First Nation. He plays guitar and bass, and scores the music to his own films as well as for other film projects and collaborations.

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.

Kent Monkman is a Canadian artist of Cree ancestry who works with a variety of mediums, including painting, film/video, performance, and installation. He has had solo exhibitions at numerous Canadian museums, participated in various international group exhibitions, and his award-winning short film and video works have been screened at various national and international festivals.

Heritage Minutes: Chanie Wenjack

Shane Belcourt (Metis) • 1:00 • 2016 • Canada

A glimpse into the horrors enacted on Indigenous children at residential schools, this emotional Heritage Minute opens on Chanie Wenjack’s attempt to escape his residential school in 1966 and ends with his tragic death on a railway track, not far from where he began.

Shane Belcourt is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, and musician based in Toronto. He has made numerous films such as his feature film Tkaronto, a short film produced by the NFB called Boxed In, and a 48-min performance arts documentary called Kaha:w – The Cycle of Life. In 2013 Shane collaborated with playwright Yvette Nolan to create A Common Experience, which was featured in Air Canada’s In-Flight entertainment. In 2014 Shane worked with acclaimed writer Maria Campbell on a live reading/screening with his film Apikiwiyak, at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival. And most recently wrote and directed the 13-part documentary TV series Urban Native Girl which aired on APTN in 2015.


Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk) • 7:00 • 2016 • Canada • English

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 Indigenous women.

Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk) is a film and television actress best known for her starring role in Rhymes for Young Ghouls, for which she received a Best Actress nomination at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. Her most recent acting work includes roles in feature length films The Sun at Midnight and The Land of Rock Gold.

Oú Sont tes Plumes (Where are your feathers)

Widia Larivière & Mélanie Lumsdem • 2015 • 4:52 • Canada • English

Two sets of sisters humorously share their experiences with prejudices against First Nations people.

Widia Larivière is an Anishnabe from Timiskaming but she grew up in town. As a feminist and activist for the aboriginal cause, she has been involved in many youth initiatives for the rights of aboriginal peoples. Since 2009, she has been the Youth Coordinator for Quebec Native Women. She is also the co-initiator of the Quebec section of Idle No More, a movement that intends to contribute to having Aboriginal People's voices heard.

Mélanie Lumsdem was born to an Inuvialuit mother and a Belgian father and grew up in urban areas. She is in charge of projects for DestiNATIONS, an Aboriginal organization based in Montreal, for research on the state of native cultural development in Quebec. She co-founded Mikana, an organization whose mission is to raise awareness of Aboriginal realities in Canada.

Gods Acre

Kelton Steopanowich (Métis) • 2016 • 15 min. Canada

Lorne Cardinal stars in this unsettling, powerful short of a man determined to protect hisland 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.

Kelton Steopanowich is a filmmaker from Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta. He is best known for writing, directing, and producing the short film Gods Acre, which had its world premiere in 2016 at TIFF. In 2016 Kelton was a recipient of the Telefilm micro-budget program to produce his first feature film The Road Behind in the summer of 2017.

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.

Amanda Strong is an Indigenous (Michif) filmmaker, media artist and stop motion artist currently based out of the unceded Coast Salish territory also known as Vancouver. Amanda’s work explores ideas of blood memory and Indigenous ideology. Her films Indigo and Mia’ challenge conventional structures of storytelling in cinema and have screened internationally, most notably at Cannes, TIFF, VIFF, and OIAF. Her latest short animation Four Faces of the Moon will be premiering with CBC Short Docs and is being developed into a graphic novel.

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. 

Candy Renae Fox is a filmmaker, actress, and artist from Piapot First Nation, and is currently based in Regina, Saskatchewan.  She is a film studies graduate from the University of Regina. She is known for her role on APTN’s Moccasin Flats.  Her documentary film ‘Backroads’ was selected as one of Canada’s top student films and screened at TIFF in 2015.  

Wake Up!

Jessie Short (Métis)• 2015 • 5:58 • Canada • English

A woman transforms into Louis Riel in an exploration of Métis identity 

Jessie Short is a curator, writer, and multi-disciplinary artist and emerging filmmaker whose work involves memory, multi-faceted existence, Métis history and visual culture. Short obtained an MA degree in 2011 and an Undergraduate degree in 2006. Short worked in the visual arts department at The Banff Centre for the Arts, and she also spent two years as the executive director of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective in Toronto, Ontario. She is currently working on various contracts as a curator and documentary filmmaker.