ImagineNATIVE MEDIA ARTS FESTIVAL at Innis Town Hall (2 Sussex) and the Royal Cinema (608 College), Thursday-Sunday (October 24-27). For schedule, see Rep Cinemas, page 103. www.imaginenative.org. Rating: NNNN
It's year three for imagine-Native, now one of the anchors of the fall festival season. It's got an astoundingly wide spectrum of aboriginal media, from Spadina to Russian Udmurtia, and from the most heartfelt, straight-up documentaries to the freakiest of art videos.This year kicks off tonight with Alanis Obomsawin's Is The Crown At War With Us? (Thursday, October 24, 6:30 pm, Royal), a chronicle of the conflict between Mi'kmaq and non-native fishermen in Burnt Church, New Brunswick. Obomsawin is the reigning queen of Canadian documentary. This year ImagineNative and the National Film Board inaugurate a best-doc prize in her honour.
Further afield, an insightful, beautifully made film called Inuk Woman City Blues (Friday, October 25, 3 pm, Innis Town Hall) follows a group of women who've migrated from Greenland to the colonial capital, Copenhagen. It's a story familiar to West Indians in London or Filipinos in Los Angeles -- illusions crushed like matchsticks. Inuit director Laila Hansen shows how a specific history leads these women from abusive homes in Greenland to the bottom of a Danish beer bottle.
Obomsawin and Hansen get close to the subjects of their films and let them tell their stories. But there's also a strong stream of personal work at ImagineNative.
Dana Claxton's I Want To Know Why is literally a scream of rage at the devastation wrought within her family, set to some beguiling club beats. And Thirza Cuthand delivers Anhedonia (both films Friday, October 25, 7 pm, Innis Town Hall), a title that might be copped both from shrink's bible the DSM-IV and Woody Allen's original title for Annie Hall. But this is no romantic comedy. Cuthand serves up shards of a personality -- her own. It's a portrait of a woman in the pit of depression but insightful enough to own up to illness and look for connections to her other shards: queer, young, First Nations.
Cuthand is one of this country's brightest new art stars. And it's not because there's a strap-on scene in this tape. It's because she thinks.