COUNTRY: FILMS OF THE >WAPIKONI MOBILE< IN QUEBEC. AFFIRMING DEMARGINALIZED TERRITORIES

Films of the ›Wapikoni Mobile‹ in Quebek

Filmprogramm 1:
Thursday, June 2nd | 19.30 h | Lichtmeß
Saturday, June 4th | 22.00 h | Zeise 2

Filmprogramm 2:
Friday, June 3rd | 22.00 h | 3001
Sonntag, June 5th | 15.30 h | Zeise 2

Indigenous people living in Quebec face a double solitude in Canada. The isolation of many of their communities, commonly known as reserves, is one thing, but also because they are for the most part French speaking. This fact often keeps them apart from the other Indigenous communities in the rest of Canada who are mostly Anglophones.

Since 2004, the ›Wapikoni Mobile‹ team has done tremendous work to alleviate the isolation of Indigenous communities primarily in Quebec, but also across Canada and worldwide. With its travelling studio moving from community to community, ›Wapikoni‹ provides Indigenous youth a unique access to audiovisual creation allowing their talent to bloom. During each stopover, two mentor film makers train a dozen of young participants in all stages of film and music production. These workshops cover writing and directing as well as the more technical aspects such as camera work, sound recording and editing. Around fifty short films and thirty musical recordings are created each year.

With over five hundred short films under its belt, ›Wapikoni Mobile‹ has succeeded in providing the tools needed to be heard to a wide range of young Indigenous people from all over Quebec. Through their films, these young First Nations film makers have become the ambassadors of a rich, living contemporary culture that is all too often overlooked or underappreciated. Their success is proof of the undeniable talent that exists within these communities. With only one month to realize their films, the young Indigenous film makers choose to speak about the daily struggles they face at home. The films produced often take the form of first-person accounts with a desire for self-expression that seems to contribute to a general affirmation of identity. The personal, introspective approach brings a necessary authenticity to these films, which makes for powerful works that can move beyond simplistic cultural frameworks.

The film makers quickly understood that their short films are a powerful tool for education and communication. Recurring themes emerge from the collection such as the passage of time and the gap between generations. ›The Amendment‹ by Kevin Papatie is one of the most successful films on the impact of residential schools for native children on subsequent generations. Papatie was one the first participants of the ›Wapikoni Mobile‹ and has since then become a successful film maker with a dozen short films to his credit. He often uses the experimental form to convey his message, but it is through the contrast of an off-screen whispered voice that he imposes his personal style and commands the viewer’s attention to his discourse. The experimental form allied to a documentary style becomes a recurrent feature for ›Wapikoni‹, and one might think this new form has become predominant with many Indigenous film makers in Canada. Often the film makers manipulate the image to give an aesthetically modern rendering. This fosters the idea that the First Nations of Quebec are not frozen in time, but are proud and very much alive.

With the sustained growing production of films made under ›Wapikoni‹, this past decade has seen the emergence and rise of a new generation of Indigenous film makers in Quebec. Marie Pier Ottawa is a good example of how ›Wapikoni‹ can be a launching pad to greater opportunities. Her work is impressive by its cinematic maturity and its aesthetic quality. She combines sound and image marvelously well to create unique and original works that often waiver between cinematography and artistic videography. The disarming simplicity in most of the ›Wapikoni‹ films succeeds in revealing the issues faces by these youths in these particular communities. The organization seeks to unleash creativity in order to boost self-esteem and bring a sense of worth. It creates and encourages real talent amongst Indigenous youth, making what was once marginalized back into the mainstream. The impressive collection of short films produced through the ›Wapikoni‹ program has not only filled a void in the landscape of francophone Indigenous cinema, but it has also created a network of exchanges between international Indigenous communities. The young film makers who often travel worldwide to promote their films have become advocate for their culture and realities.

›Wapikoni‹ has therefore grown to be much more than a social project. It contributes to developing an international awareness around First Nations issues in Canada. It promotes Indigenous film makers and their heritage while addressing contemporary issues based on an artistic approach. This in itself affirms the position of ›Wapikoni‹ as a leader in breaking the isolation and indifference faced by Indigenous communities today.

Caroline Monnet is a film maker and visual artist from Outaouais, Québec, currently living in Montreal. Monnet’s work has appeared in exhibitions and festivals in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, the UK and New Zealand, including the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) and Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), as part of Rencontres Internationales (Paris/Berlin/Madrid), TIFF (Toronto), Aesthetica (UK), Cannes Film Festival (France), Sundance Film Festival (USA), Axenéo7 (Canada), Museum of Contemporary Art (Montréal) and Arsenal Contemporary Art (Montreal), among others. Monnet is currently the artist in residence at Arsenal Contemporary Art. Meanwhile, she is working on numerous other projects, including the development of her first feature ›Bootlegger‹, as well as a solo exhibition for the Walter Phillips Gallery at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada).