The 15th Annual Land Insights First People’s Fest – or at least what we’ve seen of it before press time – has been a great success and they owe that in large part to the Cree film company Rezolution Pictures and director Tracey Deer’s first solo effort, Mohawk Girls.
The documentary, which was sold out in the two showings the Nation attended June 13 and 14, follows the interesting and unique lives of three Kahnawake teenagers as they deal with the usual teenage drama, but with a twist.
Felicia attends Kahnawake’s high school and is constantly getting in trouble in class. Her home life is less than ideal and she is going blind from a rare eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa. Despite all her problems, her zest for life and her sarcasm are enjoyable to watch.
Lauren is half Mohawk, half African-American and has to deal with the backlash that comes with living in a Native community and being a child of a bi-racial relationship. She’s also dealing with the fact that when she turns 18, she will have to petition the band to become a member of the community.
Amy is an idealist. She wants to get out of town and see what life has to offer. At the end of the film, she graduates from high school and ponders where she will be heading – anywhere, she says, as long as it’s not Kahnawake. Some of the things she’s running from are drugs and alcohol and an overall small mindedness in the community.
The film is interspersed with old footage of Deer’s teenage years and subsequent graduation. It’s a wonderful part of the film and really gives a sense of how close she was able to get to her subjects.
Another Rezolution Pictures film showcased at the Festival June 14 was One More River.
The documentary follows the signing of the historic Paix des Braves Agreement from the announcement of it to the seal of approval four short months later.
It chronicles the struggle the opposition had in getting their voice heard, and some of the tactics the Grand Council of the Crees used to get the agreement signed in record time.
It also shows some of what the people of Eeyou Istchee have to deal with in the shape of overzealous non-native hunters and outfitters and their appetite for Cree land.
The last (but certainly not least) Rezolution Pictures film screened June 15 was Heavy Metal.
It addressed the serious issue of Ouje-Bougoumou water being contaminated by local mines and the apparent lack of interest in bringing this issue to the forefront. One who did raise the issue was Joseph Shecapio-Blacksmith.
As the community’s Environmental Officer, Shecapio-Blacksmith, with the help of New Hampshire Geologist Chris Covel, uncovers the dangerously high levels of toxins in the water from which the Crees drink and eat.
The sad result is the loss of life to cancer of Shecapio-Blacksmith, after which Covel gives the affirmation to Shecapio-Blacksmith’s family that he will never quit until the issue is resolved.