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Masterclass empowering future Indigenous filmmakers

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Future filmmakers are being trained in Lethbridge. The empowered filmmaker masterclass strives to give people with no prior film experience the tools to tell the stories of their community. As Erik Bay explains, the budding documentarians have plenty to share. – Apr 11, 2022

The empowered filmmaker masterclass held in Lethbridge will aim to train some in the Indigenous community to tell their own stories through film.

Kennedy Fox-Zacharias is one of several students taking part in the five-day program, which teaches filmmaking tools and techniques.

The local Indigenous artist wants to create films that share Blackfoot history and traditions with others in southern Alberta.

Read more: Southern Alberta filmmaker’s documentary on opioid crisis set to hit theatres

“There’s nowhere else I can go in this country and learn my culture,” Fox-Zacharias said. “I can’t go anywhere else and learn Blackfoot. If I leave and go to Toronto, if these artists leave and go to Toronto (or) Vancouver, all these hubs, then there’s nothing left for the next generation. The thought in (my) mind is what are we leaving behind?”

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It’s just one of several ideas being thrown around after the first day of the program.

Josh Cummins is one of five Sage Clan members enrolled in the class. For their final project, they’re creating a documentary highlighting the city’s vulnerable population.

“When people ask us how they can help, the homeless and addicted are right there. You just have to ask them and they’ll tell you,” Cummins said.

“We’re here to give them that voice.”

Read more: The meaning of empathy: Documentary examines the opioid crisis and community work being done on Blood Tribe

More than 200 people across western Canada have been trained through the program. It covers different areas of the process, including camera movement, interview tips and post-production.

Lead instructor Farhan Umedaly believes teaching Indigenous communities how to document their stories through film gives them a platform to share their perspective.

“It’s a powerful tool in their oral tradition, that they can immortalize an elder before their stories are gone,” Umedaly explained.

“Silencing their voices has been a part of colonization… we should work together to elevate their voices.”

A tool these students are already planning to put to use for their community.

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“We want to make our own spot and our own narrative and that’s kind of what the goal would be,” Fox-Zacharias said.

For more information on future classes, click here.

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