Opening night for the Rezolution Pictures’ screening of Dab Iiyyuu at the Land Insights Festival was hot. Notables included filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, who was on hand to see what the Crees were up to.
She got to see Sonny get his first goose. Dab Iiyyuu is a touching story of hunting. You could even call it a tale of two cities, a story of traditional hunting on the coast of James Bay but also a story of Crees living in Montreal. The urban Crees would still go out spring goose hunting in the farmers’ fields in the surrounding Montreal countryside. It is also a story of the clash of two cultures and adaptability while holding on to traditions. Crees have embraced the new economies and the requirement for money. Money in order to live, eat, get supplies and to hunt.
Next up was the tale of Charlie Etapp and the making of a traditional Cree drum. At the end you should be able to make your own. Charlie lets us see into the past when a man who could make his wife snowshoes was a man indeed. A life when being self-sufficient and being a good hunter was a necessity in order to survive. It gives you a rare glimpse into the traditional beliefs of the Cree from a man who talked with spirits and eventually gave it up to become a Christian. It is a fascinating story and one that director Neil Diamond should be proud of.
Throughout this series you get a sense of who the Cree were and are. It is a job well done.
But Crees aren’t the only Aboriginals in the film portion of the Festival. There’s Mi’kmaq director Jeff Barnaby who has two short films playing: From Cherry English and Red Right Hand. From Cherry English stars Nathaniel Arcand and tells the story of a young urban native losing and trying to find his tongue. From Cherry English was part of CBC’s late night Zed TV and has already won several awards for Barnaby.
But Barnaby says his favorite is Red Right Hand, a searing, ultra-realistic look at the lives of a young native caught in the vicious circle of drugs, alcohol and violence. Lead actor Randy Rosenberg delivers a terrifying performance as a young ex-convict. Nakuset plays the female lead who falls victim to Rosenberg’s “charms.” Not a film for the faint of heart.
Also playing was a documentary, A Whispering in our Hearts, from Australia. The film follows Aboriginal elders in their search for the remains of their people who were massacred by Australian police in the early 1900s. The police still claim the murders never happened. Do not miss these films.
Montreal also has other festivals happening in the summer. Below is a short list:
Montreal Fringe Festival, June 12-22: I always enjoy going to this one. I never know what is going to happen. There’s music, plays, movies and some really strange things that go on. I’ve gone to the Drag races for the past couple of years. Seeing men dressed up as women (really gaudily and bad make-up) running through tires with nine inch spikes trying not spill a drink was worth a few laughs. This is a festival for those who are adventurous and open.
Magnifico Film Fest, June 18-22: Free films shown in the open air are across the street from Ex-Centris (3536 St-Laurent). Info: 847-1242 for movies and times.
Main Madness, June 19-22, Aug. 21-24: Not really a festival but it feels like one. Last year I saw a belly dancer, a mechanical bull you could ride and much more. The real deal though is the fantastic bargains available. All shops, bars and restaurant take over St. Laurent street, which is closed between Sherbrooke and Mont Royal.
Les Bouquinistes du St-Laurent, June 19—July 13: In this one, books are for sale at the Old Port. There’s always something happening there. You can always take in the floral sculptures while you are there. It’s pretty cool.
24th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal,
June 26—July 6: There’s more than just jazz going on. I’ve seen some great blues shows in the past. I even managed so see Sonny Terry once. A moment to remember.
Fête Nationale/St-Jean-Baptiste, June 24: The celebration is something to see and there are various activities around town. A few speeches, a parade, music and a whole lot of drinking.
Canada Day Festivities, July I : The feds’ version of St. Jean Baptiste day. You’ll see less binge drinking at this one.
Carifiesta, July 5: This is a beautiful pageantry with a parade that everyone is encouraged to join in on. You can dance your way around Montreal to great Caribbean beats.
Vues d’Afrique: July 10-13: A fantastic time to learn what the African beat is all about. I went to the launch of it and enjoyed myself wholeheartedly. Great music that will have you dancing.
Just for Laughs, July 10-20: A good laugh will do wonders for you. All the doctors say so and the Just for Laughs comedy fest is one of the best around for it. Plenty of free shows as well as the paying kind. Get your tickets early as the best acts are usually sold out.