The First Nations film and cultural festival unveils its schedule

For the past 23 years, Land InSights has been bringing First Peoples Festival / Présence Autochtone to Montreal with a line-up of Aboriginal films and performances that rivals the city’s other summer festivals. This year’s event is no exception with dozens of films being screened for the first time at various locations July 30-August 5.

In the presence of two enormous puppets representing an earth spirit and a sky spirit, André Dudemaine, the jovial director of First Peoples Festival Présence Autochtone, announced the schedule and objective of the festival’s 23rd edition.

“This is a cultural event that, as its name indicates, is a presence – and a constant one,” Dudemaine said. The long list of performances and movies up for screening was presented to a packed audience gathered for the festival’s press conference at the Grande Bibliothèque in Montreal.

The opening honours go to Paroles amérikoises, Pierre Bastien’s film that gives centre stage to Aboriginal poets who took part in a gathering in the Innu First Nations of Ekuanitshit, located 200 km northeast of Sept-Îles. Competition for the many film awards being handed out at the festival, including the Rigoberta Mencha Grand Prize and the Teueikan Grand Prize, is fierce.

“This festival is a passion of mine which makes it extremely hard to choose what films to feature in light of the huge amount of Native talent in filmmaking,” said Dudemaine about the selection process for the film entrants.

On the musical front, CerAmony and Digging Roots will rock the audience on August 1 when they perform the first of two free concerts taking place at the Place des Festivals. The following day, Électrochoc will pump up the audience with its electro beats while composer Katia Makdissi‐Warren’s new piece written for throat singers, DJs and chamber music will provide quite an interesting fusion of sound.

Once again, the festival will transform downtown Montreal into a living cultural experience where performances and rituals will offer festival-goers a chance to experience Canada’s Aboriginal contemporary culture. Visitors will be able to explore photo exhibitions, watch Inuit sculptors at work, taste Amerindian cuisine, and watch independent Aboriginal films in a longhouse with a screening room.

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