The Skoden Indigenous Film Festival debuts at SFU

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      A new film festival, dedicated to B.C.-based Indigenous filmmakers, debuts Saturday (June 1) at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

      Taking place over one day and beginning at 1 p.m., the Skoden Indigenous Film Festival will feature short films by a mix of young artists and experienced filmmakers.

      SFU film students Carr Sappier and Grace Mathisen founded the festival as a way to “indigenize the campus.”

      “There are Indigenous events that happen on campus, but they’re really academic,” Mathisen tells the Georgia Straight over coffee near the downtown SFU campus. “We wanted to make this space more friendly to Indigenous peoples.”

      The films chosen emphasize creativity and diversity of voices.

      Sappier and Mathisen were looking for filmmakers who use their skills and passions to address issues that matter to them. Themes of identity pervade the films, as well as discussions of residential schools, drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence.

      “These are tense subjects that are hard to talk about,” says Sappier.

      But, they add, films are a good way for people to “open themselves up. They’re a big part of expression and just getting the word out there—not just educating people, but letting people in and having something to initiate a conversation with.”

      The festival aims to bring people together and celebrate their stories.

      By playing the work of young filmmakers together with that of well-established Indigenous artists, such as Trevor Mack (“Clouds of Autumn”) and Lisa Jackson (“Savage”), the organizers hope to strengthen relationships in the local Indigenous film community.

      “We’re bringing together a hub of creative minds,” says Sappier. “I’m really inspired by the young filmmakers. They’re not afraid to get out there and just express themselves—about who they are and what they’re battling with.”

      For example, “Proximity”, by Emma Joye Frank, visualizes “contrasting memory and reality.”

      The protagonist walks through the city while “recalling her home in the K'ómoks Valley and overlaying those memories over the city landscape.”

      “It’s a really cool film,” enthuses Mathisen. “Definitely more experimental than the other ones.”

      The festival will be presented in two screenings, with family-friendly films playing in the earlier portion, and those featuring adult content at 4 p.m.

      Each program will feature an opening ceremony and a Q&A session. An awards ceremony will follow at 7:30 p.m., and an after party at 9 p.m. at the Pint.

      Tickets are available on a sliding price scale from $0 to $20, and can be purchased here.