Films give image and voice to indigenous youth
Suvi West, Director of Skábmagovat, Performing Artist Samian Tremblay and Film Director Manon Barbeaup -- Photo Credit: Mr. Ville Paso, SDD; SIIDA Sámi Museum & Northern Lapland Nature Centre
Performance at Skábmagovat, the Indigenous Peoples’ Film Festival -- Photo Credit: Mr. Ville Paso, SDD; SIIDA Sámi Museum & Northern Lapland Nature Centre
Mr. Jorma Lehtola, Artistic Director of Skábmagovat, and Film Director Neil Diamond -- Photo Credit: Mr. Ville Paso, SDD; SIIDA Sámi Museum & Northern Lapland Nature Centre
The participation of Canadian artists in Skábmagovat, the Indigenous Peoples’ Film Festival in the Finnish Lapland in January 2010, has sparked an exchange program between Finland and Canada that will give image and voice to indigenous young people to tell their stories to the world.
The aim of the exchange between the Sámi and the First Nations is to cooperatively produce films, and have the films screened in both countries and elsewhere.
In January and February 2011, Canadian Aboriginal students will study at the Sámi Education Institute (site available in Finnish and Sámi) in Finland for several weeks, and in September 2011, Finnish Sámi students will join Wapikoni Mobile in Québec.
Wapikoni Mobile project uses travelling studios which move around in indigenous communities offering practical training in script writing, directing, editing, and sound recording. Six of Québec’s First Nations peoples, Algonquin, Atikamekw, Cree, Innu, Huron, and Mohawk, are involved in the project. Since 2002, hundreds of short films have been created, and they have been broadcast – and awarded – at various festivals around the globe.
In addition to 30 short films produced by Wapikoni Mobile, a dozen of other Canadian aboriginal films were screened during the Skábmagovat festival that attracted over 3400 participants. Cree director Neil Diamond’s documentary Reel Injun had its European premier at the festival.
Skábmagovat was held at SIIDA Sámi Museum and Northern Lapland Nature Centre, in Inari, approximately 300km north from the Arctic Circle. Organized for the 12th time, the Festival’s focus was on the cinema of the Canadian Aboriginals.
Participation of First Nations representatives at the festival helped to raise Canada's profile as a Northern/Arctic actor and Canada's commitment to promote sustainable social and economic development of the Northern regions in a way that benefits the Northerners and the Aboriginal people.
The Canadian artists were extremely positive about the visit and felt it was very important to connect with other indigenous peoples. Expectations on the exchange program are high, and the two partners are excited about future cooperation possibilities between the indigenous peoples around the world, hoping that this kind of a program could be extended to cover larger areas and more peoples.
The Embassy of Canada in Finland advocated to have Canadian Aboriginal films as the theme of this year’s festival and supported the attendance of Film Director Manon Barbeau, Performing Artist Samian Tremblay and Film Director Neil Diamond to the Festival as international guests of honour.
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