Made by us: Rethinking Indigenous Films

Curated by Akira Iahtail and Masa’n Selene Galindo

The 21st Vancouver Latin American Film Festival’s FILMS FROM TURTLE ISLAND AND BEYOND program Made by us: Rethinking Indigenous Films questions what an Indigenous film is classified as. Can every Indigenous film fit into the same category? Do we all have the same stories, feelings, emotions, and expressions? 

Before, there were our ancestors, now it is us, and who will come next? All of these films explore narratives that us, as Indigenous people, have done since time immemorial. This program makes us question what can be categorized as Indigenous film, what about the films that go beyond the usual narrative, to go beyond simply being labeled Indigenous film? What are we talking about when we say Indigenous films? Does it mean the same thing for someone in Turtle Island, Abya Yala, and beyond?

The Made by us: Rethinking Indigenous Films program invites you to think and reflect about the aforementioned questions. We invite you to experience these different and complex narratives, styles, voices, expressions and emotions in our screenings and dialogues.

We acknowledge that the Festival takes place on unceded and unsurrendered Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil Waututh territories. Our work is done with gratitude and humility, acknowledging that we celebrate the art of film on stolen land.
Akira Iahtail and Masa’n Selene Galindo

Saturday, Sept 9 at 2:00 PM
The Cinematheque

Program running time: 96 min

Community Partners:

A body over the sea (Un cuerpo sobre el mar)
Directors: Gabriel Zhiminaicela & Christian Espinoza Parra
Cañari community/Ecuador, 2023
Spanish with English subtitles | 20 min

At 25, Christian begins to remember the rape he suffered as a child, so he decides to go to see the sea for the first time. The trip is traversed by the ghosts of the past, an uncertain present, and a painful letter that tries to reveal the presence of a rapist.

Dry Hand (Mano seca)
Director: Isis Catrin
Mapuche/Chile, 2023
Spanish with English subtitles | 8 min

In an inhospitable and barren place in Santiago de Chile, a figure with the ability to create life rises from the earth, gradually creating vegetation. Her curiosity leads her to a ruined structure; when she enters the place, she comes across a small building that emerges from the ground. Suddenly, the figure’s powers begin to dissipate.

Canoe Life
(Vida canoera)

Director: Ruth Elsa Gándara
Guaraní/Argentina, 2022
Spanish with English subtitles | 7 min

A day in the life of a fisherwoman from the Argentine coast.

Manitushiss (Virus)
Director: Réal Junior Leblanc
Innu/Uashat mak Mani-Utenam/Quebec, 2022
French with English subtitles | 5 min

Powerful cinematographic slam, with a mastery of words in the language imposed by colonization, this film expresses a criticism of our relationship to Mother Earth.

Titration: Radioactive Waste, Princeton, and the Navajo Nation
Director: michael q ceballos
Navajo Nation/USA, 2022
English | 10 min

The film examines the legacy of the late Princeton University chemistry professor Nathaniel Furman, who was involved in the Manhattan Project and the creation of the atomic bomb. He contributed to the development of the ether extraction process for the preparation of uranium oxide, and the film contextualizes his research within broader histories of uranium mining and Native land. Furman’s work in the early- and mid-20th century directly contributed to contamination in the Navajo Nation where incredibly detrimental effects on Navajo environmental and human health still remain today.

Director: Ritchie Hemphill & Ryan Haché
Gwa’sala-’Nakwaxda’xw/Canada, 2022
Bak̓wa̱mk̓ala with English subtitles | 8 min

Məca is a stop motion representation of the late Elder Ida Smith telling her grandson the ‘Nakwax’daxw legend of the Mink. In this film, Ida tells the story in the Bak̓wa̱mk̓ala language. Mink, or “Məca”, is an impatient son of the Sun who is trying to force himself into being someone other than he is, so that he can impress love interests. Throughout his journey Məca will learn what it means to have humility, patience, and to be better at self acceptance.

Director: Manuel Mateo Gómez
Nasa/Cuba, 2022
No dialogue | 20 min

Bodies, sighs and glances between the birth and death of captive animals. The mystery of their lives wanders in daily rituals of human presences.

Director: Tirza Yanira Ixmucané Saloj Oroxom
Kaqchikel/Tzutujil/Guatemala, 2022
Mayan K’iche’ with English subtitles | 18 min

Ri Ati’t; Grandma Lago has lived for more than 84,000 years in what is now Tzutujil and Kaqchikel land in Guatemala, a grandmother who nurtures and gives life to the land and her grandchildren. Time has passed and the grandmother faces oblivion and abandonment.

With respect and gratitude, the Vancouver Latin American Film Festival acknowledges that it takes place on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.