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Arts & Culture ᐊᔨᐦᑐᐧᐃᓐ

Montreal hosts the 33rd International First Peoples’ Festival 

BY Sakib Hossain Aug 3, 2023

Experience the vibrant celebration of Indigenous art and culture at Montreal’s premier showcase of the artistic prowess and cultural renaissance of Indigenous peoples around the world. August 8-17, the First Peoples’ Festival will be a hub for the rich heritage and diverse narratives of Indigenous communities, offering an array of audiovisual works, immersive exhibitions and live performances.

The epicentre of this artistic extravaganza is the Place des Festivals in downtown Montreal, where a towering teepee sets the stage for a vibrant tapestry of Indigenous culture. 

The festival’s films feature an intriguing selection of recent works that highlight the perspectives, struggles and triumphs of Indigenous peoples globally. The festival recognizes the talents of these filmmakers by presenting numerous prizes and bursaries to honour their contributions. 

Here are some of the films this year:

Twice Colonized
(Documentary) by Lin Alluna, 92m, Canada-Denmark-Greenland 
The festival’s opening film is a feature-length documentary that focusses on Aaju Peter, a renowned Inuit lawyer and activist from Greenland. While fighting for Indigenous rights, Aaju embarks on a deeply personal quest for healing and reconciliation. Director Lin Alluna captures Aaju’s spirit and determination to confront the effects of colonization. 

(Documentary) by Xun Sero, 80m, Mexico
A dialogue between a Mexican Tzotzil son and his mother, exploring contradictions, recognizing each other, and reflecting on naturalized violence. 

Un pont au-dessus de l’Océan

(Documentary) by Francis Fourcou, 105m, France 

Two journeys, one by an Occitan singer and the other by an Osage poet, intertwine to preserve their cultures and languages. 

A Boy Called Piano
(Documentary) by Nina Nawalowalo, 57m, Fiji-Samoa-New Zealand  

Fa’amoana John Luafutu’s story as a state ward in New Zealand in the 1960s and the intergenerational impacts of this experience.

(Fiction) by GiNo Pitarch, 21m, France 

Siwane, a Kanak from New Caledonia, struggles with reactions to his culture backstage at a Parisian theatre. 

Screenshot from Kanak

Kanatenhs – When the Pine Needles Fall
(Documentary) by Ellen Gabriel, 21m, Canada 

The story of the Kanesatake Mohawk community fighting to protect their homeland during the 78-day siege of the Oka Crisis. 

Better At Texting
(Fiction) by Mary Galloway, 11m, Canada 

Trinity, a radical Indigenous feminist, and Addison, a devout Black Mormon, find common ground while working on a school project. 

Savage / Future 
(Experimental) by Terry J Jones, 3 min 22, USA 

Seneca filmmaker Terry Jones uses personal and historic still images to connect his family and the American Indian Boarding School experience. 

(Fiction) by Pat-i Kayapó, Paul Chilsen, 14m, Brazil 

This short film tells the legend of how agriculture came to the Mêbêngôkre-Kayapó in the Brazilian Amazon.

The Voyager’s Legacy
(Fiction) by Bailey Poching, 10m, New Zealand 

Set during the Dawn Raids in New Zealand in the 1970s, three Samoan children imagine their home as a fairytale world despite a reality of racial discrimination.

Beyond the cinematic screen, the festival will also feature an impressive number of performers who will grace the stage. Attendees can look forward to performances by musical talents Moe Clark, Joseph Sarnhes and Laura Niquay 

More than just a festival, this event creates a platform for cultural exchange, dialogue and celebration. It attracts an array of artists, activists and filmmakers from around the world, fostering connections and building bridges of understanding.

This unique festival highlights the power of art and culture to unite, inspire and foster positive change, thus making it an unforgettable experience.

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