Film can be used to educate, to document, and to tell stories. Video works can also spark conversations about topics both inspiring and difficult. In doing so, film can build culture and understanding among different peoples – and, sometimes, we discover we are not so different after all.
This has been one early finding of Assistant Professor Karine Bertrand’s work through her project, “From Arnait Video Productions (Nunavut) to Video in the Villages (Brazil): developing a network of the Americas for Indigenous women filmmakers”. Dr. Bertrand, who teaches in the Department of Film and Media, is working to establish a film database for Indigenous women filmmakers to help them leverage what some call the modern ‘talking stick’ – a way for Indigenous women to make their voice heard on important subjects.
Dr. Bertrand is one of the recipients of funding through QROF 2017 under the category of “Research Leaders.” With this funding, one of her goals is to build a network that will allow Indigenous women filmmakers across North and South America to communicate with, support, and learn from each other. She is partnering with Indigenous filmmaker Sonia Bonspille Boileau, as well as Indigenous elders and Indigenous students at Queen’s, to help bring her vision to life.
“I have been teaching a course on Indigenous women’s film and media for the last few years and looking at a lot of different video works from the Americas and Oceania, and I realized that it is really hard to get a hold of these films,” Dr. Bertrand explains. “And, despite the fact many of these female Indigenous filmmakers are thousands of miles away from each other, they are living the same realities. If they could share and communicate about their experiences, it might be able to help them in the healing process. It is so inspiring to think that maybe we can make a difference for these women.”
Dr. Bertrand hopes to launch the database within two years, and is currently consulting with the filmmakers about the best approach and seeking tech-savvy students who could assist. In the meantime, she has successfully reached out to the Four Directions Aboriginal Student Centre, whose elders are from Tyendinaga, and local Indigenous communities, including her community in Kitigan Zibi and the Outaouais region, to seek their blessing on the project.
With the support from the QROF, Dr. Bertrand also aims to establish a Minority Women’s Film and Media Production Centre here at Queen’s, and host a biennial conference showcasing minority women’s cinema with the first conference taking place in 2018. She believes there would be significant interest in the topic – 99 per cent of students enrolled in her Indigenous Women’s Film and Media course are non-Indigenous, and many of her fellow faculty have expressed their support for such a centre. (Read More)