After 11 solid days of film, video, traditional cultural activities, art, songs and anything else that you can fit into a festival. Terres en Vue or Land In Sights finally wrapped up June 21.
This year the festival featured various feature films, documentaries, videos and shorts in the film and video category, with entertainment on a number of silver screens across the city every night. We at the Nation took in a handful of events to review just to give you an idea of what the 17th edition of this home grown international indigenous cultural extravaganza had to offer.
Juan Mora Catlett’s Erendira Ikikunari is the story of a Mexican Joan of Arc from Michoacân who raises an army to fight the invading Spaniards. Despite the doubts of King Tangoxoân II and the criticisms of the other tribe members of her refusal to marry, Erendira conquers in the true spirit of a warrior. This film is not only visually stunning but a fascinating exploration of the Purepecha language and culture, using unique illustrations, masks and Aztec frescos to depict a legend-like tale of colonization and overcoming odds. With exquisite makeup and phenomenal art direction, this flick is a sure bet.
Filipino director Aureus Solito’s film Tuli, which translates as “circumcision,” or “circumcised,” certainly must have raised some eyebrows at this year’s fest. Set in a lush, jungle village, Tuli follows the stories of Daisy, the daughter of the town’s alcoholic baker and Botchok, the daughter of the town circumciser. They find love together after they are both quite disappointed by the village’s marriage prospects. This film takes some shocking twists and turns though it manages to remains relatively light and lively all the way through, touching on issues of conformity, rural isolation and the integration of Catholicism with indigenous practices. Though at points this film was ultimately disturbing, its stark, primitive film style, grainy film stock and limited audio effects add to its mysticism and drama.
In Eron Sheean’s William, an indigenous magician hops into a taxi with two lady friends on the way home from a bar. Unexpectedly, a new passenger claiming to be in distress also gets into the cab and the incident forces William to revisit moments of his life that he would have rather forgotten. This 19-minute Australian short was much more about the lead actor’s range than about the actual events in his life but his performance is so brilliant that the film is quite satisfying. This film also won the Festival’s “Feueikan Grand Prize.
Ana Maria Pavez’s Popol Vuh, the Quiché Maya Creation Myth is a spectacular Chilean animated short about how the sun and the moon came to be. The animation is based on the murals in Mayan temples, bringing new life to an ancient legend. In Popol Vuh, two brothers named Hunahpu and Ixbalanque combat the gods of the underworld and eventually become the sun and the moon. This 11-minute short is visually stunning and engaging to the extent that the viewer is begging for more at the end. For good reason: it won the best animation film prize at this year’s fest.
BC film students Tim Kulchyski, Thomas Hukari, Maria Constandinou and Tizot Olsen came together to create Xiwhu, a very short film about sea urchins. This sweet little Canadian film is the story of a man’s sick grandmother and her desire for the traditional slhexun medicine. As he tells her story he describes his own difficulty in maintaining traditional methods or harvesting sea urchins due to their decline. Though just over five minutes long, this mini flick was delightful.
Julien Boisvert’s and Simon Ip’s Two Spirits: Back in the Circle is a 20-minute documentary on being homosexual in the context of a First Nations community in Canada. With interpretation from Suzy Goodleaf, Eric Greenan and Harvey Michele, the interviewees discuss the hardships of reconciling a “two spirited” lifestyle with the subsequent rejection from their communities, Christianity, AIDS and why gay aboriginals have the highest suicide rate within any group in Canada. This little doc gave an eye-opening look at the lives of some of society’s most forgotten individuals in a thought-provoking manner.
From the US, Cedar Sherbert’s Soy Pedro, Somos Mixteco paints an intimate portrait of the life of Oaxaca-born labour leader Pedro Lopez. Pedro comes from very little but works very hard, prompting him to want to help others in his situation. Though this film is stunning visually, it is not perhaps as clear as it should be, leaving the viewer lost. Indeed a good effort but not the best film the fest had to offer.