The Abbe Museum and Reel Pizza are partnering to present the region’s first ever Indigenous Film Festival during the Abbe Museum Indian Market, May 18-21. Each evening will feature films by and about Indigenous peoples, presenting stories often overlooked in the film industry. The Abbe Museum Indian Market Indigenous Film Festival’s inaugural year will include feature films, documentaries, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers.
We are proud to announce the list of films being shown this year. Alanis Obomsawin’s Our People Will Be Healed; Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls; Valerie Red-Horses’ MANKILLER; Ciara Lacy’s Out of State; and Sydney Freeland’s Drunktown’s Finest will be featured. All Indigenous, all incredibly talented storytellers sharing a diversity of topics.
Hosting a film festival in the heart of Wabanaki homeland is a labor of love, and this year two of our features are made by Wabanaki filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin, Abenaki from Odanak, and Jeff Barnaby, Mi'gMaq from Listugui, will bring their talent to the Reel Pizza screen for visitors near and far. The Abbe Museum hopes to continue highlighting Wabanaki filmmakers while also showcasing films by talented Indigenous people from around the world as we move forward in years to come producing this event.
This past winter we have highlighted a number of films featuring topics relating to Indigeneity in a lead up series to this film festival. The sheer diversity of films in this lead up series demonstrates the power of film and forced us to confront issues of representation on screen. From the silent film Daughter of Dawn to Powwow Highway, we know that these images are important to unpack.
We would like to thank our partners at Reel Pizza and Elizabeth Weatherford from the National Museum for the American Indian for helping make this vision a reality.
Come celebrate Indigenous filmmakers with us!
Click on titles to view trailers.
Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s 50th film, Our People Will Be Healed, reveals how a Cree community in Manitoba has been enriched through the power of education. The Helen Betty Osborne Ininiw Education Resource Centre in Norway House, north of Winnipeg, receives a level of funding that few other Indigenous institutions enjoy. With a focus on self-determination and sustainability, it is home to a remarkable education centre and a range of community-managed industries, but the legacy of colonial policies and the traumas of both the residential school and the crisis around murdered and missing women remain deeply felt. With Our People Will Be Healed, Obomsawin shows us what action-driven decolonization actually looks like, using interviews and gorgeous landscape photography to represent this vibrant place in all its complexity and beauty.
Rhymes for Young Ghouls is grim story of survival written and directed by Mig’maq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby. In 1976, a Mi'gMaq teenager Aila (Devery Jacobs) plots revenge against the sadistic Indian agent, Popper (Mark Antony Krupa), who runs a residential school. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. Hustling with her uncle Burner, she sells enough dope to pay Popper her "truancy tax", keeping her out of residential school. But when Aila's drug money is stolen and her father Joseph returns from prison, the precarious balance of Aila's world is destroyed. Her only options are to run or fight and Mi’gMaq don't run.
When history fails to preserve stories from our past and present, it’s up to us to correct the record. Wilma Mankiller, the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, is omitted from most history books despite ranking among revolutionary leaders like Harriet Tubman or Eleanor Roosevelt. She was an activist and a champion to a nation – and it’s time the world remembers her name. MANKILLER is a documentary celebrating a leader who defied all odds to make a difference for her people. During a time when American Indians found themselves disenfranchised and undervalued by the United States at large, Wilma emerged as a champion of the Cherokee Nation and became its first female Principal Chief in 1985.
Shipped thousands of miles away from the tropical islands of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two native Hawaiians discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. It's from this unlikely setting that David and Hale finish their terms and return to Hawaii, hoping for a fresh start. Eager to prove to themselves and to their families that this experience has changed them forever, David and Hale struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking the question: can you really go home again?
On a beautifully desolate Navajo reservation in New Mexico, three young people – a college-bound, devout Christian; a rebellious and angry father-to-be; and a promiscuous but gorgeous transgender woman – search for love and acceptance. As the three find their lives becoming more complicated and their troubles growing, their paths begin to intersect. With little in common other than a shared heritage, they soon learn that the key to overcoming their respective obstacles may come from the most unlikely of sources, each other. Inspired by a 20/20 story that called her hometown of Gallup, NM “Drunktown USA,” writer/director Sydney Freeland has constructed a moving and ultimately uplifting story about coming of age in the most challenging of circumstances while still finding hope, healing, and the chance for a better life.