M’CHIGEENG – Building on the foundation of sharing knowledge and telling stories, the Weengushk International Film Festival (WIFF), presented by Weengushk Film Institute in partnership with Brock University, announced the selection of 30 unique and diverse films for the July 12 – 14 weekend. WIFF is a celebration of the creativity of Indigenous filmmakers and uses film to advance the goals of truth and reconciliation to highlight indigenous related films and filmmakers.
Located in the heart of the largest freshwater island in the world, WIFF will be hold opening ceremonies at the Four Directions Complex located at 1300 Highway 540 in Aundeck Omni Kaning First Nation at 4 pm on Friday, July 12. A second venue, also in Aundeck Omni Kaning, is at the administration office hall located at 13 Hill Street. Workshops will be in M’Chigeeng at the Weengushk Film Institute.
“We are very proud of this year’s lineup of films and events,” said Jonathan Zagula, WIFF board of directors member. “We have something for everyone. From a cultural exchange with a Maori media group from New Zealand, industry workshops and a top class musical blues showcase; but the thought-provoking and diversity of our films this year will be sure to spark conversations, which is one of the goals of WIFF.”
Opening the festival is a film directed by eight New Zealand women titled ‘Waru,’ a powerful and challenging story surrounding the tangi (funeral) of a small boy Waru who dies at the hands of his caregiver and how the boy’s death impacts the community.
There are over 30 films in this year’s lineup from hard-hitting documentaries, to feature films to shorts and animation. One of the highlight films this year directed by Tasha Hubbard is ‘Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up.’ The film follows the Boushie family, their lawyers and others as they seek justice to this senseless act that caused national and international outrage directed against the Canadian justice system.
The second day of the festival opens with films created by youth who attend Weengushk Film Institute and Brock University, followed by a question and answer session. A new addition to the schedule is a feature film ‘Trouble in The Garden’ directed by Roz Owen, who will be in attendance for a question and answer session. ‘Trouble in the Garden’ is a feature film that is inspired by the ‘60s Scoop. WIFF will also be holding industry workshops on Saturday, beginning with a language workshop at the Anishnaabemowin Gaming in M’Chigeeng. Additional workshops include a music workshop with Billy Joe Green and Vern Cheechoo, an acting workshop with Gary Farmer and a co-production workshop with New Zealand filmmaker Nicole Hoey.
The highly charged ‘Angelique’s Isle,’ one of the newest Indigenous films, will close the festival Sunday with renowned filmmaker/producer Michelle Derosier in attendance.
‘Angelique’s Isle’ is a harrowing tale of perseverance and survival that unfolds during the great copper rush of 1845, when newlyweds Angelique, a young Ojibway, and Charlie, her voyageur husband, are left stranded throughout a brutal winter on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale where Angelique is ultimately forced to face her inner demons and beliefs as the unbelievably beautiful, yet treacherous wilderness threatens to claim her.
The Saturday night music event titled ‘Spirit of the Blues’ will prove to be an exciting night as well with and energetic line-up that includes blues guitarist Billy Joe Green and friends Marten Tuesday and Brad Meadmore from Winnipeg. The Pappy Johns Band from Six Nations, Gary Farmer, Vern Cheechoo and Patrick Cheechoo will be slinging blues renditions until midnight. Weengushk acknowledges funding support from the Ontario Arts Council, an agency of the Government of Ontario.
WIFF will have many visiting directors, chiefs and entertainers such as Jesse Wente of the newly formed Indigenous Screen Office and Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. Also joining them are former NHL left winger and former NHL coach Ted Nolan along with author and motivational speaker Calvin Helin, who will be accepting the WIFF humanitarian awards.
The closing red carpet fundraising awards gala will begin at 3:30 pm on Sunday, July 14.
Awards for consideration are Best Film, Best Actor/Actress, Best Director, Best Documentary, Best Short and Best Student Film, along with other categories. The fundraising gala will support the Jay Switzer Bursary for film studies at Weengushk Film Institute. Following the Awards Gala will be a youth dance and a presentation by DJ Classic Roots.
For more information or to purchase tickets visit the festival website at weengushkfilmfestival.ca.