WAFF Spring 2019 Final Film Program


  • Opening Night: Friday at 7:00 PM – Dirt McComber: Last of the Mohicans  


Directors: Joanne Storkan & Ryan White

Canada | 1 hour, 26 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: In Kahnawake Mohawk Territory, rough-and-tumble Dirt McComber struggles to support his large modern family as the last member of his community to maintain a traditional Mohawk livelihood. Eric “Dirt” McComber is a rugged individualist who provides for his family of nine by hunting and fishing the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory near Montreal. A traditional livelihood isn’t just of philosophical concern to Dirt, it also provides the financial resources needed to keep the McCombers afloat, and his bustling household is ground zero for maintaining Mohawk traditions in the modern day. But, when disaster strikes Dirt’s business, the whole family must remain resilient during a harsh Quebec winter and prioritize what is truly important to preserve their way of life.


  • 11:30 AM: Urban Eclipse  

Directors: Jesse Green & Vanda Fleury-Green

Canada | 1 hour, 17 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: Winnipeg, Manitoba plays itself while an Anishinaabe community in Treaty 3 territory was displaced and isolated by its thirst for an everlasting source of water and the construction of an aqueduct in the early 1900’s.  2019 marks the centennial of the aqueduct. We are all united by a fundamental connection with Shoal Lake water. On the path to reconciliation, 24 kilometers of permanent road is a vein to the Trans-Canada Highway.  Freedom Road secures safe access to health services, supports economic growth and development of local infrastructure, and encourages active participation in a vibrant community. The water that connects the Lake of the Woods watershed remains a powerful force and the memories and ongoing relationships continue to define the narratives of Kekekoziibii. This documentary features a unique blend of story work through a deep chorus of local voices, landscapes and achievements, grassroots events and rallies, professional and political acknowledgements, while showcasing +100 photos and images from archives across Canada!

  • 1:00 PM: Better Days: A Journey of our Youth 

Director: Christopher Beausoleil

Canada | 19 minutes, 46 seconds | 2018

Synopsis: A young man leaves the reserve after getting into an argument with his step mom. He decides to hitch-hike to Edmonton to attend a friend’s house party. Once there, he does a drug and overdoses. His friends have no idea what to do so he passes away. His family and friends are stricken by grief but his friends end up attending Naloxone training and the overdose scene plays through again with the friends saving his life. The film wraps up with all of the friends attending a sweat lodge together. (This film was made by Indigenous Youth as a training video in the face of this opioid epidemic to help educate and save lives. We feel this film will resonate with our communities both on reserve and living in the city.)

  • 3:00 PM: Trouble in the Garden   

Director: Rosamund Owen

Canada | 1 hour, 26 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: Raven, a radical eco-activist, is jailed for protesting development on disputed Indigenous land. Long estranged from her adoptive family, she never imagined her brother Colin would be the one to bail her out. Compelled to stay at his suburban home, she discovers he’s in real estate - pre-selling houses on the very land she’s been trying to save. Adopted, disowned, and now under house arrest, this is a story of betrayal and reckoning - with love, land, and blood.

  • 7:00 PM On the Tip of the Tongue  

Director: Vincent Bonnay

France | 52 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: “AwA’ahdah”, “iishuh”, “ilah qe’xleh”. These forgotten words are coming from the other side of the world, and almost lost all of their meaning, even to their own people. In Alaska, the Eyak language died in 2008. Is there a life after death? The Eyak people want to believe so. The last native speaker, Marie Smith Jones, had a dream before she died: someone from far away would come to help her people. Two years later, hope personalized as Guillaume Leduey, a 21-year-old Frenchman arrived by ferry. Passionate about native languages since his early teenage years, he set foot in Alaska, the land of people whom he had learned the language, alone, in his hometown of Le Havre, France. For decades, native people were oppressed by white men domination, assimilation policies, and violence. This led to fear and shame, and soon, native languages were forgotten. Today, Native Americans want to take back what is theirs, including their languages, and proudly claim who they are. There is no will of independence in this process, only the need to exist and try to get to know them better, to rekindle a culture that was deeply buried in their memories, so they can start to reconnect with their roots. Standing on their side, Guillaume is the living proof that everything is possible: if he has done it, so can they. Today, while living in France, he works full time for the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. Linguist and Professor Michael Krauss found in Guillaume his worthy successor, meant to document, and more importantly, pass on the Eyak language to the descendants of these people. Every year, Guillaume goes to Cordova, Alaska, the ancestral land of the Eyaks where descendants gather to learn their language.
Every year in Cordova, they now gather to revitalize their language during their much needed annual cultural camp.

  • 8:00PM Three Feathers

Director: Carla Ulrich

Canada | 44 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: When harm is done, justice must heal. After committing a shocking crime that devastates the innocence of their small community, Flinch, Bryce and Rupert are sent to live on the land for nine months to explore the power of restorative justice. The Elders reconnect them to a life that was taken from them long ago, but it’s up to the boys to acquire the humility needed to return home and face their past.

  • 9:30: Edge of the Knife 

Directors: Gwaii Edenshaw & Helen Haig-Brown

Canada | 1 hr, 40 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: Filmed on stunning Haida Gwaii, Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s 19th-century epic is a nod to the grand storytelling traditions that lure us to the big screen. The fact that it’s the first narrative scripted and shot in two dialects of the endangered Haida language—which has only 20-odd fluent speakers left—also certifies it as a landmark work of cinema. Guilt-ridden after a tragic accident at sea, Adiits’ii (Tyler York) retreats into the wilderness where he’s plagued by spirits and transformed into Gaagiixiid/Gaagiid, the Haida Wildman. As his loved ones, including best friend Kwa (William Russ), set out to capture and cure him, Adiits’ii grows increasingly feral.


  • 2:00 PM Short Film Program


Director: Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs

Canada | 7 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: While organizing her seventh birthday party, Rae, a young Mohawk girl and her schizophrenic mom, find their roles reversed within their mother-daughter relationship.


Director: Howard Adler

Canada | 22 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: Like many Indigenous young people in Canada, Cynthia Pitsiulak (Kimmirut, NU) and Charlotte Qamaniq (Iglulik, NU) connected with their strong cultural roots only after being away from it. As expats from the north, and growing up in the City of Ottawa, they sought out, reclaimed, and taught themselves the traditional Inuit art-form of throat singing. They formed a band with DJ Rise Ashen, and created a sonic experiment blending Inuit throat-singing with futuristic dance floor beats. In the Inuktitut language "Silla” has many connotations, but it roughly translates as "weather", and symbolizes the affection that Charlotte and Cynthia have with their culture. Silla is a short documentary about Silla and Rise, it follows the band members behind the scenes as they prepare for and plays numerous live shows, it delves into the historical suppression of Inuit traditions, and how their music is reviving and reclaiming the beautiful art form of Inuit throat singing.


Director: Cole Forrest

Canada | 2 minutes | 2017

Synopsis: "Braids" recounts the story of an Aboriginal man beaten to death from the hands of racist folk from a nearby town. The next day, his partner comes by to pick up the pieces.

Raven’s Memories

Director: David N. Bernatchez

Canada | 7 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: A great Huron chief reminisces about Wendake's Reserve.

Magic Madeleines

Director: Milriam Laurence   

Canada | 22 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: “Life is only interesting when the dust of reality is sprinkled with magic.” (Marcel Proust) In this modern fairy tale, only an old lady and her secret recipe for magic madeleine cookies can save the city’s ravine and its ancient secret from the Big Bad Wolf condo builder and the grifting duo he sends to swindle her. To fulfill a promise she made to her brother before he died, 80-year-old Vivienne Bordeaux (Pam Hyatt) is on a quest to find and preserve the secret of an ancient Indigenous burial site they discovered as children. When greedy real estate mogul, Simon LeLoup (Richard Zeppieri) sends two grifters (Sera-Lys McArthur and Alex Cruz) to trick Vivienne into selling the land, Vivienne unleashes her secret weapon – magic madeleine cookies that transform those who eat them into their truest selves. 


Director: Dwayne Cloes

Canada | 10 minutes | 2019

Synopsis: This documentary features interviews with six First Nations adults, who explain how learning about their parents’ disturbed childhoods has helped them fight the toxic effects of several generations of residential schooling and build a positive future for their own children.  

Three Feathers

Director: Carla Ulrich

Canada | 44 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: When harm is done, justice must heal. After committing a shocking crime that devastates the innocence of their small community, Flinch, Bryce and Rupert are sent to live on the land for nine months to explore the power of restorative justice. The Elders reconnect them to a life that was taken from them long ago, but it’s up to the boys to acquire the humility needed to return home and face their past.

  • 4:00 PM: Pathways: Feeding Each Other

Director: Tasha Hubbard

Canada | 9 minutes | 2018

Synopsis: The short documentary features food pathways between rural and urban Indigenous communities linked to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (Turtle Island/Canada). It documents the way people share and exchange food and food knowledge. Focusing on people in and around Saskatoon, the film portrays traditional food practices that exist differently but alongside and sometimes despite mainstream practices, as implicit and explicit elements of decolonization. The film project draws in part on research about food networks with Indigenous people and their families on Treaty Six Territory, Turtle Island (Canada) and the role of social and family relationships as central to food culture, resilience and resistance. Pathways: Feeding Each Other is a project by award winning film director Dr. Tasha Hubbard and Co-Director Lise Kossick-Kouri, Master’s student at the University of Saskatchewan. The project is produced by Dr. Rachel Engler- Stringer, funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation and the Urban Aboriginal Knowledge Network.

Spirit Water

Director: Coleen Rajotte

Canada | 4 minutes | 2019

Synopsis: An annual Spring Tradition is to tap a healing tonic from Birch Trees. Medicine woman Brenda Gaudry takes us into the forested area near Swan River in Northern Manitoba.

2019 Closing FIlm Feature

  • 6:00 PM: Angelique’s Isle

Directors: Michelle Derosier and Marie-Helen Cousineau

Canada | 1 hour, 30 minutes | 2018

Synopsis:  Angelique's Isle is a story about love and survival. Abandoned on a deserted island with her voyageur husband, Charlie (Carrick), Angelique (Jones), an Anishinaabe woman, finds her faith tested as she fights starvation, the elements, and the treacherous Lake Superior.

** Some slight program updates. Could be subject to change.