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As Hollywood bestows a major honour, Rezolution’s production schedule is full

BY Martin Siberok Sep 27, 2021

The office of Rezolution Pictures is a beehive of activity. Ideas are flying, phones are ringing, and folks are moving.

Ironically, however, the biggest buzz is being generated by a 12-year-old production – the widely acclaimed, multiple award-winning Reel Injun, Rezolution’s 2009 documentary about Hollywood’s portrayal of Indigenous peoples.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, which opens in Los Angeles September 30, is including Reel Injun in its permanent exhibit titled Stories of Cinema.

This core exhibition is focused on the creation of the story and will exhibit screenplays, research documents, working materials and storyboards. In the case of Reel Injun, research notes and a page from the transcript will be on display aside a seven-minute clip from the film.

News of the honour sent the adrenaline skyrocketing at Rezolution Pictures. Several key players in the production of Reel Injun are now booking flights to Los Angeles for the opening. They include director and writer Neil Diamond, co-director and producer Catherine Bainbridge, and producers Christine Fon and Lisa Roth.

“I would like to thank the Academy…. This will probably be the only time I ever get to say those words,” laughed Diamond. “I never dreamed when I was a kid watching cowboy-and-Indian movies in Waskaganish that one day our movie would be featured in Hollywood.”

Added Bainbridge: “It’s such a great honour knowing that Reel Injun is one of those films that will be around for a long time. It’s one of those good films that has become an essential teaching tool.”

The number and variety of projects currently being worked on at Rezolution is overwhelming.

Rezolution is developing Red Fever in the vein of Reel Injun and the Academy-award nominated film Rumble as the final component of a trilogy focusing on the unrecognized history and participation of Indigenous peoples in North American culture. 

As co-director, Diamond is dissecting this theme in music, fashion, sports and the arts as he embarks on an epic road trip to discover and explain how mainstream culture appropriates and profits from Indigenous culture.

The timing couldn’t be better. Indigenous artists and creators are radically changing the mainstream narrative as they reclaim their history and share it through a lens that opens the eyes of viewers.

“It’s about the incredible influence of Native culture on all of North America,” Bainbridge commented. “It can be found in all aspects of mainstream culture. Whether it was appropriated or romanticized, there is a foundational part of American identity that is Indigenous, but it’s never been acknowledged or celebrated.”

On the documentary front, Rezolution Pitures is shooting a second season of Gespe’gewa’gi: The Last Land this fall. The first season of this APTN series about Mi’kmaq fishers in eastern Canada was such a success that the network demanded more. 

Commented director Ernie Webb: “Instead of focusing on the conflict between Indigenous and commercial fishers about fishing rights, we offer a portrayal of a resilient community – of men and women who have brought back their traditional way of life. You get to meet the people behind all those ugly headlines.”

On the dramatic side, possibly Rezolution’s most ambitious project – created by Jennifer Podemski and Hannah Moscovitch – is Little Bird, a six-part series about the Sixties Scoop. It portrays the story of a young woman with adoptive white parents. The drama begins when she investigates her past as a way to recover her Indigenous identity as she pieces together what happened to her birth family. This will be the first hour-long dramatic series made by Crave TV.

Finally, news arrived in late Juluy that Rezolution’s hit comedy series, Mohawk Girls, will screen in the United States. Co-created by Tracey Deer and Cynthia Knight, the series was picked up hy NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. With its 54 million sign-ups, American viewsers will be able to watch all five seasons of the show. 

“This is huge,” exclaimed Bainbridge. “Very few Canadian shows get on a big American streaming platform, let alone Indigenous shows.”

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Martin Siberok is an editor of the Nation as well as a professor of Journalism at Montreal's Vanier College.