Vtape is excited to co-present the works of Shelley Niro, Dana Claxton, and TJ Cuthand in Media City Film Festival’s ThousandSuns Cinema: Indigenous Edition, streaming on their website from January 9–30, 2023.
Featuring more than 60 feature-length and short films from Turtle Island and around the world––including Nunavut and the Republic of Sakha––this special series is co-selected and presented with COUSIN, an artist-run collective supporting Indigenous makers expanding the form of film.
Shelley Niro (Bay of Quinte Mohawk, Turtle Clan) is a multidisciplinary artist and filmmaker born in Niagara Falls, New York, and raised on the Six Nations Reserve. Niro’s program begins with It Starts with a Whisper (1993) an undersung and rarely-screened masterpiece, filmed with an all-Indigenous cast on the Six Nations of the Grand River, representing the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations. The film blends traditional Indigenous imagery, music, and themes with motifs from contemporary secular life. Included in this program are Niro’s Honey Moccasin (1998) and The Shirt (2003).
TJ Cuthand (Plains Cree) is a filmmaker, performance artist, and writer of Plains Cree, Scottish, and Irish descent born in Regina, Saskatchewan, in 1978. He is a member of Little Pine First Nation and has been making short experimental films and videos about sexuality, madness, queer identity, love, and Indigeneity since 1995. Cuthand’s program includes Extractions (2019) and Medicine Bundle (2020).
Dana Claxton (Hunkpapa Lakota) is an artist, filmmaker, and descendant of the original band of Hunkpapa Lakota led by Sitting Bull, who sought safe passage into Canada after defeating General Custer and his Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I Want to Know Why (1994) uses video to investigate the women in her family who succumbed prematurely to the external forces of racism and poverty. The Red Paper (1996) consciously opts for a lack of historical specificity in creating a hauntological scenario of settler-colonial violence and the psychological damage it causes its perpetrators.
About MCFF: Media City Film Festival is an international festival of film and digital art dedicated to the creation, exhibition, and dissemination of the cinematic arts in Windsor–Detroit.
About COUSIN: COUSIN is a collective supporting Indigenous artists expanding the form of film. Founded by Sky Hopinka, Adam Khalil, Alexandra Lazarowich, and Adam Piron, COUSIN creates and supports work that is personal, proudly provocative, and driven by strong artistic voices.
★ Raven Chacon ★ Sky Hopinka ★ Alanis Obomsawin ★ Fox Maxy ★ Cecilia Vicuña ★ Adam Piron ★ Anastasia Lapsui ★ Markku Lehmuskallio ★ asinnajaq ★ Caroline Monnet ★ Colectivo Los Ingrávidos ★ Dana Claxton ★ Eve-Lauryn LaFountain ★ Kent Monkman ★ Lindsay McIntyre ★ Miguel Hilari ★ Mosha Michael ★ New Red Order ★ Adam Khalil ★ Zack Khalil ★ Jackson Polys ★ Cristóbal Martínez ★ Rhayne Vermette ★ Shelley Niro ★ Svetlana Romanova ★ TJ Cuthand ★ Victor Masayesva Jr. ★ Alexandra Lazarowich ★ Solomonie Pootoogook ★ Timmun Alariaq ★ Mathew Joanasie ★ Itee Pootoogook Pitaloosie
Main image credit: John Kenney. Alanis Obomsawin rests on a rock beside the Lake of Two Mountains, Kanehsatà:ke, 1990