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Telefilm Canada highlights Aboriginal stories told by women filmmakers at Berlin International Film Festival

04 February 2013

Indigenous filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin meets Australian and New Zealander colleagues as part of Telefilm’s Talent to Watch: Sacred Female Voices Q&A session

Montreal, February 4, 2013 – Canadian documentary filmmaking pioneer Alanis Obomsawin will be joined by Catriona McKenzie (Australia) and Chelsea Winstanley (New Zealand) to discuss Indigenous cinema at the Talent to Watch: Sacred Female VoicesQ&A session organized by Telefilm Canada in connection with the Berlin International Film Festival’s (February 7 to February 17, 2013) NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation.

“A total of 11 Canadian films with Aboriginal content will be presented in Berlin as part of the Festival’s official selection and NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation as well as Telefilm’s Perspective Canada’s market screenings,” said Carolle Brabant, Executive Director of Telefilm Canada. “This strong presence of Canadian Aboriginal content at the Berlinale also reflects the contribution of our women filmmakers; these are the two realities we wish to highlight during our Talent to Watch event. The artistic expression of Aboriginal women definitely comes alive in such works as Barefoot, a short film by Danis Goulet presented as part of the Generation 14plus section.”

“Indigenous cinema is a global movement in the film world and Indigenous women are often at its heart,” says Jason Ryle, Executive Director of Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. “Some of the world’s most renowned female Indigenous filmmakers will share their perspectives and expertise as part of the Talent to Watch: Sacred Female Voices panel. This is a rare opportunity to hear from and engage in discussion with the First Ladies of Indigenous cinema from Canada and around the world, including the legendary Alanis Obomsawin. It promises to be an insightful and entertaining discussion about how Indigenous women are contributing to a new global cinematic wave.”

Alanis Obomsawin (Canada)
Alanis Obomsawin, a member of the Abenaki Nation and an icon of Aboriginal cinema has teamed up with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to make 37 documentaries. Alanis continues to pursue documentary filmmaking with the same vigour and sensitivity she has employed in her craft for decades. According to her, “There will always be a need for documentary film… for it is the voice of the people.” The resident filmmaker at the NFB is an Officer of the Order of Canada, an inductee into the Playback Canadian Film & Television Hall of Fame and was honoured with a Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts. She received imagineNATIVE’s inaugural Milestone Award in 2004 and is its Honourary President.

Catriona McKenzie (Australia)

Catriona McKenzie studied directing at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. She has over eight years’ experience in the film industry and has directed Dance Academy and My Place, among others, for ABC-TV. Her drama work includes The Third Note, awarded Best Short Drama at the 2001 Torino Film Festival, and Road, which won the award for Best Direction, Australian Drama at Flickerfest 2000. Satellite Boy, her first feature film, which will be presented as part of Berlin’s Generation 14plus section, radiates respect for traditional folkways and the Aborigines who manage to maintain them despite the encroachment of modern life.

Chelsea Winstanley (New Zealand)
Chelsea Winstanley is the producer of Saving Grace, Te Whakarauora Tangata, Merata Mita’s last film, which will be presented as part of the Festival’s NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation. She has been involved in the film and television industry for close to a decade. Chelsea is an independent producer and part owner of StanStrong, a New Zealand-based production company established in 2007. She co-produced Patu Ihu, her first short film, in 2007 and has since worked with some of the most influential people within New Zealand’s film and television industry. As a producer she has made a number of short films, including NightShift, Sonny My Older Brother, Meathead, Ebony Society and Taku Rakau. The films have been presented at the Cannes, Edinburgh, Berlin and Sundance film festivals. She has been an executive board member of Nga Aho Whakaari, the industry guild representing Maori working in film and television, and sat on the governance board of Women in Film and Television NZ. In 2009 Chelsea was the recipient of the Woman to Watch at the WIFT Film and Television Awards.

The Berlinale’s NATIVe program
This year, the Festival presents its NATIVe A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation, which will feature ground-breaking works, including features, documentaries and shorts, by Indigenous filmmakers from Oceania, Australia, North America and the Arctic, as selected by curator Maryanne Redpath and a panel of Indigenous cinema experts.

The program will give international audiences the chance to experience the many different forms of expression and content of Indigenous cinema. With this line-up the Berlinale wants to express its high regard for Indigenous cinema and its artistic, economic and political relevance that goes beyond the boundaries of nation and tribe. Canada will be in the spotlight as the series opens with Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner by Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk. All Canadian films presented in this section are produced or coproduced by the NFB.

Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner(Atanarjuat, la légende de l’homme rapide)
Directed by Zacharias Kunuk

The Ballad of Crowfoot
Willie Dunn

Circle of the Sun
Colin Low

A Mother’s Dream (Le rêve d’une mère)
Cherilyn Papatie

Richard Cardinal: Cry from the Diary of a Métis Child
Alanis Obomsawin

Official selection films that include Canadian Aboriginal content
* Aboriginal filmmaker

Barefoot (Generation 14plus section)
Directed by Danis Goulet*

Losing Touch and Coming Home(Perdre et retrouver le Nord) (Forum Expanded section)
Marie-Hélène Cousineau

Films presented as part of Telefilm’s Perspective Canada market screenings at the European Film Market that include Canadian Aboriginal content
* Aboriginal filmmaker

The Legend of Sarila(La Légende de Sarila)
Nancy Florence Savard

Michel Poulette

Yves Sioui Durand*

Path of Souls
Jeremy Torrie*

Canada @ Berlin
The Berlinale is also including Denis Côté’s film Vic+Flo ont vu un ours in the Competition as well as the following films (in parallel sections): Inch’Allah by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette (Panorama), The Fruit Hunters by Yung Chang (Culinary Cinema), Le météore by François Delisle (Forum), Lessons in Process by Philip Hoffman (Forum Expanded), Remanence I – (Lost, Lost, Lost, Lost) and Strange Lines and Distances by Joshua Bonnetta (Forum Expanded).

For more information on all of the Canadian films presented at the Berlin International Film Festival and as part of Telefilm’s Perspective Canada market screenings please visit

About Telefilm Canada
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Media inquiries
Douglas Chow, Manager, External Communications, Telefilm Canada
514 283-0838, extension 2225, or 1-800-567-0890