To celebrate National Indigenous Peoples Day, we’ve put together a list of groundbreaking films, shorts, and documentaries created by DGC Ontario Members, centring on the diverse and powerful experiences of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
For more resources, including the history of National Indigenous Peoples Day, click here.
To learn more about how you can get involved in National Indigenous Peoples Day in Ontario and Toronto, click here.
Directed by Danis Goulet
With several innovative short films behind her, Danis Goulet, named Playback’s Director of the Year for 2021, makes her feature debut with this important critique of Canada’s past. Set in 2043 after a post-war North America, Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) joins a band of vigilantes to save her daughter, Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) from a military-run institution in a powerful allegory of residential schools. Named one of TIFF Canadian Top 10 for 2022, Night Raiders has received 11 CSA Award nominations and is a TFCA Rogers Best Canadian Film nominee.
Watch on Crave: https://www.crave.ca/en/movies/night-raiders
Watch on TIFF Digital: https://digital.tiff.net/film/night-raiders/
Directed by Nyla Innuksuk
Pangnirtung, Nunavut: A sleepy hamlet nestled in the majestic mountains of Baffin Island in the Arctic Ocean, wakes up to a typical summer day. No school, no cool boys (well… except one), and 24-hour sunlight. But for Maika and her ragtag friends, the usual summer is suddenly not in the cards when they discover an alien invasion threatening Pang. But these teenagers have been underestimated their whole lives, and using makeshift weapons and their horror movie knowledge, they’re about to show the aliens “you don’t fuck with the girls from Pang”.
Directed by Bretten Hannam
*DGC Ontario Sound Post-only
This coming-of-age story focuses on two-spirit Mi’kmaw 16-year-old Link (Phillip Lewitski), who flees a volatile situation at home with an abusive father, surrounded by racist bullies. With his step-brother Travis (Avery Winters-Anthony) in tow, Link learns to connect with his culture and discover his sexuality all while staying two steps ahead of his father. Director Bretten Hannam is a two-spirit Mi’kma’ki filmmaker living in Kespukwitk, Nova Scotia whose films deal with themes of 2SLGBTQ identity, community, culture, and language. Wildhood was an official selection of TIFF ‘21 and was named one of TIFF’s Canadian Top 10 films for 2022.
Watch on TIFF Digital: https://digital.tiff.net/film/wildhood/
Directed by Shane Belcourt
Tom Wilson, the subject of this powerful documentary by Director Shane Belcourt, spent decades touring the world as a successful musician before learning late in life about his true, Indigenous origins. Based on Wilson’s memoir of the same name, Beautiful Scars explores the Canadian musician’s discovery of his Mohawk heritage and the web of family secrets that he had unwittingly been at the center of since his childhood. Beautiful Scars premiered at the 2022 Hot Docs Film Festival and was one of the top ten films considered for a Hot Docs Audience Award.
Playing this week as part of the National Indigenous Peoples Day celebration at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema: https://hotdocs.ca/whats-on/films/beautiful-scars
Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics
Directed by Terril Calder
Métis multidisciplinary artist Terril Calder wrote, directed, produced and animated this powerful and intricately designed stop-motion short that charts a challenging journey for Baby Girl, a precocious Métis girl contemplating her path to Hell until she receives The Seven Grandfather Teachings and goes on her own healing journey. This short premiered at TIFF ‘21 and was named to TIFF’s annual year-end Canada’s Top Ten list, and also received a Canadian Screen Award nomination for Best Animated Short at the 10th Canadian Screen Awards in 2022.
Watch via the NFB: https://www.nfb.ca/film/meneath-the-hidden-island-of-ethics/
êmîcêtôcêt: Many Bloodlines
Directed by Theola Ross
Produced by DGC Ontario Member Alex Bailey and Directed by Theola Ross, Many Bloodlines documents the experience of Ross, a queer-identified Cree woman, and her partner as they pursue in vitro fertilization treatment after deciding to raise a child together. The film premiered at the 2020 Hot DocsFilm Festival, where it was named the winner of the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary, won the award for Best Short Documentary Work at the 2020 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, and was named to TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten list for short films.
Directed by Miranda de Pencier
Based on the true story of how the youth in an Inuit community gained pride and a sense of identity through the sport of lacrosse. Teacher Russ Sheppard (Ben Schnetzer) moves to Kugluktuk, Nunavut, which is struggling with one of the highest rates of suicide in North America. Through commitment and determination, Sheppard introduces the youth to lacrosse and transforms their lives forever. The Grizzlies had its world premiere at TIFF ’18, and Director Miranda de Pencier won the 2018 DGC award for Best Direction in a Feature Film.
Watch on CBC Gem: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/the-grizzlies/s01
Directed by Darlene Naponse
Directed and written by Darlene Naponse, a renowned Anishinaabe musician returns to her Northern Ontario community, Atikameksheng Anishnawbek First Nation, to reconnect with the land. Legendary actress Tantoo Cardinal stars as Mary, who finds that leaving fame behind is easier said than done. Falls Around Her opened at TIFF ‘18 and was screened as the opening gala of the 2018 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, where it won the Air Canada Audience Choice Award.
Watch on Crave: https://www.crave.ca/en/movies/falls-around-her-51598
Directed by Stephen Campanelli
An adaptation of the 2012 novel Indian Horse, written by Ojibwe author Richard Wagamese, the film follows the life story of Saul Indian Horse as he survives residential school and the racism of the 1970s. A star hockey player since childhood, Saul must find his own path as he battles his buried trauma and embraces how hockey can heal him.
Watch on CBC Gem: https://gem.cbc.ca/media/indian-horse/s01