With regard to Indigenous Perspectives

in Saguenay International Short Film Festival

by Rachel Ho

For the first time in the 28-year history of the REGARD – Saguenay International Short Film Festival, the programmers included a section devoted to Indigenous filmmakers and their stories in the festival programming. Curated by Jess Murwin and Vincent Careau, Indigenous Perspectives has been three years in the making as the festival wanted to ensure they heard and addressed any concerns from Indigenous communities locally and within the film world.

Complementing the program was a special retrospective presentation of legendary Indigenous filmmaker and artist Alanis Obomsawin. After the screening, a handful of her films were shown, followed by an insightful Q&A session with Obomsawin, offering a glimpse into the extraordinary career of one of Canada’s greatest and most important filmmakers. 

In its inaugural year, Indigenous Perspectives included nine films by artists from Canada, the United States, and Greenland. From experimental vignettes to documentaries, the program delivered a well-rounded set of shorts for audiences to sink into. While each film offers a unique perspective and voice, here are the five short films from the Indigenous Perspectives section that I most connected with.

6 Minutes/KM
Dir. Catherine Boivin
Opening the presentation was Catherine Boivin’s 6 Minutes/KM (2023), a 3-minute experimental film that meditates to the rhythmic cadence of a morning run. A deceivingly simple film that only shows Boivin on-screen running along a paved road against the morning haze, Boivin provides a poetic narration over the visual describing the footsteps her Atikamekws ancestors walked and her connection to their presence in her present. 

February Sixteenth Nineteen Forty-Seven
Dir. Jessica Miinguuaqtii 
Using hand-sewn cutouts made of felt, Miinguuaqtii employs stop-motion animation to tell her birth story. Humorous and creative, February Sixteenth Nineteen Forty-Seven (2023) reflects the harsh conditions Miinguuaqtii entered the world, but most of all, it highlights the courage and strength of her mother. Wonderfully imaginative, Miinguuaqtii’s film evokes child-like wonder and artistic spirit.

Dir. Inuk Jørgensen 
Greenland director Inuk Jørgensen’s Entropy (2024)discusses climate change while interweaving Greenlandic folklore throughout the film. Stunning images of ice caps in varying forms fill the screen with the stark blues and turquoise painting each frame. The narration of traditional Inuit stories heightens the natural beauty of these landscapes. The connection between the Inuit of Greenland, the land, and the rest of the world is poignantly stressed as Jørgensen drives home what will soon be lost if large-scale changes aren’t made now

Dir. Evelyn Lorena
Dreams clash with reality in Evelyn Lorena’s Gabriela ((2023), the story of a young Guatemalan woman who aspires to become a swimmer while navigating the intricacies of young love. Gabriela considers the direct and indirect consequences of living in the U.S. as an undocumented person, as well as the pressures and inequalities existing in the world for a young Latina. The film quietly and profoundly extricates the feelings of insecurity and uncertainty in a sophomore effort that shows Lorena’s potential as a filmmaker.

Ancestral Threads
Dir. Sean Stiller
The finale of the Indigenous Perspectives presentation, Ancestral Threads (2023), goes behind the scenes of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week. Following model-turned-community activist Joleen Mitton, the film explores the event’s motivations and importance to Indigenous youth. Stiller emphasizes the vibrancy of VIFW with a spirited soundtrack and a tight edit that earnestly displays infectious optimism.

By Rachel Ho
Edited by Anne-Christine Loranger