Arts

Former U of O student featured in largest Indigenous media festival in the world

Photo: Courtesy of Eric Cino-Mars

Indigenous people often feel that they are poorly represented in the media, and stereotypes such as laziness can create a narrow view of what Indigenous people are really like. Fortunately, there are people like Caroline Monnet who are fighting against these images with films that show a different side of Indigenous culture.

Monnet, a former sociology and communications student from the University of Ottawa and filmmaker of Algonquin descent, will be showing her film Mobilize at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival on Oct. 15 in Toronto.

Mobilize is a short film that features different clips from the National Film Board archives of Indigenous labourers from all over Canada. Monnet was commissioned to do the piece by the Board for Souvenir, a series of shorts by Aboriginal artists that was shown at the Pan Am Games in Toronto this past summer.

Monnet found the project of representing Indigenous identity to be an “interesting challenge” as Canada’s Indigenous people are so broad and diverse.

Monnet’s film is just under three minutes long, and shows several different clips of Indigenous labourers. The work varies, from people chopping wood to construction workers walking across beams high above a city.

These images are juxtaposed with clips that have less to do with labour, such as children playing in a playground and a woman taking a walk around a city, all set to a powerful score by Tanya Tagaq.

“I really wanted audiences to feel kind of out of breath watching it, you’re bombarded with information and you don’t really know what just happened to you after watching the film, but you feel like you just lived an experience,” she said. “Your heart is pounding and you’re out of breath and I think you feel energized and you understand that Indigenous people are very, very active, beautiful, you know, they’re doing things.”

Monnet has been showing films at the imagineNATIVE festival since 2009. As the world’s largest Indigenous film festival, imagineNATIVE brings together Indigenous people from all over the world to share their work in film, video, radio, and new media.

“It’s kind of the big test for your films. You make a film and it can screen at many festivals, but when it screens at imagineNATIVE it’s almost more nerve-racking because you’re showing it to your own people, to your family, she said. “It’s easier to screen a film with people you don’t know sometimes. I think it’s an important audience.”

For Mobilize, Monnet’s main focus was showcasing her people in a positive light.

“When we talk about Indigenous representation, I really wanted to focus on positive representation, showcasing a people that are constantly moving, not stagnant in time, that were active, contemporary, modern.”

Mobilize will be showing in Home Fires: Canadian Shorts at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, which runs Oct. 14–18 in Toronto. For more information visit http://www.imaginenative.org/home/.