13. February 2016 · Comments Off on #52filmsbywomen #CdnTwist 5 – Hi-Ho Mistahey! (director: Alanis Obomsawin) · Categories: #52filmsbywomen, Documentaries · Tags: , , , , , , ,

This year, I joined thousands of other film fans who have taken on the challenge to watch 52 films directed by women in 2016.  It’s part of a campaign using the hashtag #52filmsbywomen.  I’m throwing in an additional twist and making them all Canadian films.

My selection for week 5 is the film Hi-Ho Mistahey! (2013) by director Alanis Obomsawin.

Hi-Ho Mistahey!, Cree for “I love you forever”, is a feature length documentary that profiles Shannen’s Dream, an activist campaign inspired by the work of Shannen Koostachin, a Cree teenager from Attawapiskat, who wanted to lobby for improved educational opportunities for First Nations youth.  Read more about Shannen’s Dream on the website for the First Nations Child & Family Caring Society of Canada. More »

16. July 2015 · Comments Off on Matt Smiley’s ‘Highway of Tears’ · Categories: Documentaries · Tags: , , ,

matt“Since the late 1960s, at least eighteen young women — many of them from disadvantaged First Nations communities — have disappeared or been found murdered along the 724-kilometre stretch of Highway 16 in northern British Columbia. None of these cold cases were ever solved until 2012, when a special RCMP investigation was able to link DNA from one of the murder victims to deceased US criminal Bobby Jack Fowler; but this single answer has done little to heal the wounds of Aboriginal communities who have seen dozens of their young women vanish along the “Highway of Tears,” victims not only of murderous predators but of the systemic racism of a federal government that keeps them trapped on impoverished reservations and, as critics charge, evinced little interest in apprehending their killers.

Narrated by Nathan Fillion, Matt Smiley‘s hard-hitting documentary Highway of Tears not only movingly relates the personal stories of the victims, but investigates how the legacy of generational poverty, high unemployment and endemic violence in their communities contributed to their tragic fates — and how contemporary First Nations leaders are striving to cure those ills.” — Official website

The film’s producer/director Matt Smiley was born in Montreal, Quebec and began his career as an actor. He transitioned to film and book development spending time in France and los Angeles. He produced Rituals, Ashton Kutcher’s web-series created by Mean Magazine founder Kashy Khaledi.

Highway of Tears was screened at the TIFF Human Rights Watch Film Festival, was awarded Best Documentary at the Malibu Film Festival and Best of Festival at the Zonta Film Festival in 2014. Here’s the trailer.