We are so happy to report that all three films that premiered at the 2011 Biindigaate Film Festival were more than well received. This fantastic weekend in September saw 41 films screen at the Paramount Theatre to a racially mixed Northern Ontario audience and to indigenous filmmakers from all over.
Return To Manomin, directed by Thunderstone’s Michelle Derosier, premiered as part of opening night to a packed house (~ 200 people). It was introduced by festival co-chair Jana Rae Yerxa and Sara Roque, Aboriginal Arts Officer from the Ontario Arts Council. Now, we weren’t really comfortable with this time-slot at first, as that we both (Michelle and Dave) are also part of organizing of the festival. However, the rest of the 12 person committee insisted that this was the film for that time-slot given the fact it was feature-length, was made by local filmmakers and crew, and pertained to a topic of regional relevance. That said, we were floored by the response from the community. Our first truly feature-length film received a long standing ovation from the crowd and the questions during the Q&A that followed were heartfelt and engaged. The accolades have been pouring in ever since. This is a filmmaker’s dream. Honestly, we didn’t know how people were going to react to such a simple story, a family returning to a place. Of course, the uproarious laughter and tears on faces were welcome, albeit unexpected. Meegwetch to everyone who came out, especially family and friends.
Next up for Thunderstone was the public premiere of our short documentary The Life You Want on Saturday afternoon. This film is about a young mother’s struggle to recover from prescription drug abuse while living in a remote northern reserve community. This film had already pre-screened to regional Chiefs and earlier on Friday to service providers in the community. These screenings had gone well and we were honoured to have Doris Slipperjack, the subject of the film, there at these screenings. Saturday’s screening however, was extremely special as that Doris has brought a lot of her family from Fort Hope (Eabametoong First Nation) who had never seen the film. Her mother features prominently in the film and tears could no be held back by anyone when during the Q&A Doris thanked her mom for never giving up on her. Four days later, the film has been requested for use in the training of medical professionals in the Regional Hospital, for use in schools with youth and for use in treatment scenarios. It is also sitting in the hands of several Federal politicians and policy makers. For us, and for our partners, the Sioux Lookout First Nation health authority, this is a huge success.
Last, but not least, was the premiere of Eagle vs. Sparrow which opened for the Maori feature comedy Boy by Taika Watitti. This seemed to be a perfect fit as that Eagle vs. Sparrow was made with at-risk youth from the Dryden High School who adapted a traditional legend about humility (as told by Michelle’s great grandfather who was from that area) and Watitti’s film is about a young boy who’s relationship with his father could lead him down the wrong path. And while our film was based on the legend of “Eagle and Sparrow”, the change in the the title was coincidentally inspired by Taika Watitti’s first feature “Eagle vs. Shark”. A match made-to-be we suppose. Anyway, the response was fantastic, a large cheers were elicited from the audience before the credits even hit the screen.
So, what a weekend for Thunderstone Pictures! We hope you can forgive the lack of blogging over the past several months. We’ve been quite busy. Now, it’s on to a short period of screening our work to the world. Both Eagle vs. Sparrow and The Life You Want have been selected to screen at the ImagineNative Film Festival in Toronto in October and we have our fingers crossed on a few other submissions.
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- Thunderstone’s Dave Clement wins Northern Ontario Cinematographer of the Year
- Thunderstone Dave Clement nominated for Cinematographer of the Year for “Return to Manomin”
- Filmmaker Derosier offers a voice for the North
- Our Michelle Derosier guest on CBC Radio “The Current”
- Thunderstone Pictures receives crime prevention award