A film festival heading into its 13th year will showcase diverse and local content from Manitoba as it gets underway this week.
“I think WNDX Festival of Moving Image specializes in more artsy kind of films and also has documentaries along with films with that same kind of theme,” said festival participant J.J. Neepin.
J.J. and her sister, Justina, are showing their film Bayline at the festival. The documentary explores the sister’s parents showing them the area where they grew up on the Bayline railroad between The Pas and Churchill.
“It started off as a family vacation. My dad wanted to show us were he grew up before residential school in northern Manitoba,” said J.J.
“It was a return to a way life that exists no more. Not all of us started on a reserve. It was about learning our own family history. It really gave us context about stories our parents told us about their upbringing,” Justina said, reflecting on lessons she learned while filming.
The sisters said filming your own family brings some challenges.
“The original cut of the film was 40 minutes. We had to squeeze it down. It’s just so hard when it’s your own family. That’s a tough part about documentaries,” said J.J.
Being Indigenous herself, J.J. said it means a lot to see more films exploring First Nations stories.
“There’s no better opportunity, as an Indigenous filmmaker, than now. I think it’s happening within our own people. With the time and climate, we feel strong enough to use our voice to tell our own stories,” J.J. said.
The pair hopes films like theirs spark more Indigenous people to create their own projects and tell their stories.
“I hope other people see us and say ‘Why can’t we make our own films?’ It’s how we were inspired to make films,” J.J. said.
The festival gets underway Sept. 19 and runs until Sept. 23.
Information on films, admission and screening locations, which include Poolside Gallery and Winnipeg Cinematheque can be found on WNDX Festival of Moving Image’s website.
WATCH: Indepedent Filmmakers J.J. and Justina Neepin talk WNDX Festival of Moving Image and their latest project.