Sask. filmmaker brings Indigenous cinema to the Prairies

Tristin Greyeyes is the executive director and founder of the Ācimowin Film Festival. Ethan Butterfield / Global News

A local Indigenous filmmaker has created a film festival to help foster Saskatoon’s emerging film industry and bring awareness of Indigenous cinema to the Prairies.

“I’m hoping that it will continue to provide opportunities and uplift and empower Indigenous voices that are already there,” Tristin Greyeyes, executive director and founder of the Ācimowin Film Festival, said. “We’re not here to give anybody a voice, we’re here to give them a platform.”

The inaugural Ācimowin Film Festival is currently underway in Saskatoon, with showings of 80 films created by local and international Indigenous filmmakers. They can be seen at the Remai Modern Art Gallery and the Roxy Theatre throughout the week. A third venue, the Broadway Theatre, will be added on closing night, Saturday.

Many different styles and genres of film will be on display, with a horror film night taking place on Friday at the Roxy Theatre.

Story continues below advertisement

“Storytelling is so important in our culture and this is just another form,” Greyeyes said. “It’s visual storytelling and we’re natural storytellers as Indigenous folks. As traditionally oral people, storytelling is our gift.”

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

When she moved away from Saskatchewan to pursue her career as a filmmaker, she saw the impact film festivals and filmmaking can have on their communities.

“We just need to have more of a platform, more opportunities here in Saskatchewan,” she said. “My goal is to bring it back so that future generations can continue to empower themselves through the tool of filmmaking.”

One of her short films, Okihtcitawak / Warriors, is playing at the festival on Friday evening at the Remai Modern Art Gallery. She created it with the youth at Chokecherry Studios.

“I was basically a mentor and we just kind of worked on it together,” she said. “It was a really nice remembrance for one of the youths that has passed on, so it’s really important and special.”

The festival is an opportunity for Saskatchewan filmmaker Janine Windolph to show her film for the first time. Her new National Film Board of Canada (NFB) documentary, Our Maternal Home, makes its premiere at the Roxy theatre on Saturday afternoon.

“Because my grandmother was a missing woman for 23 years it was a way to help foster healing so that my kids can be able to get to know their Atikamekw Cree side,” Windolph said. “My kids were really the motivator, and actually it was my eldest who pitched the film idea.”

Story continues below advertisement

Windolph said the festival is an opportunity for people to take in different stories and carry them with them into the future.

“That exchange is also valued by storytellers because we make stories for people to take with them, and sharing them is just as important as the making of each film.”

Windolph was one of the organizers of Saskatchewan’s first Indigenous film festival, Mispon. The final edition took place in 2016.

Sponsored content