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FILM

Wenjack

About

The Breath was hired on to work with Historica Canada to make two Heritage Minutes. Director Shane Belcourt and Producer Michelle St. John worked closely with screenwriter Joseph Campbell to bring these challenging issues into one-minute education spots.

Synopsis

This “synopsis” is from a Vice review

A glimpse into the horrors enacted on Indigenous children at residential schools as recently as 1996, the emotional minute is narrated by Pearl Achneepineskum. She is a survivor of the system that deliberately sought to “kill the Indian in the child.” Through violence, sexual abuse, and whitewashing, children were taught to cauterize their Indigenous parts. But while Pearl lived through the horrific ordeal, her brother Chanie Wenjack did not. The new Heritage Minute opens on Wenjack’s attempt to escape his residential school in 1966 and ends with his tragic death on a railway track, not far from where he began. The video is raw, heartbreaking and not easy to watch. It will bring you to tears. And you should watch it over and over again. Because as hokey as those old videos were, this new Heritage Minute is not only devastatingly recent, it’s devastatingly real and more relevant to our present than any previous video, as iconic as they may have become.

Credits

FULL “CHANIE” — CREDITS

Pearl Achneepineskum — Story Consultant and Narrator
Jared John Bomberry – ChanieMeko Misquadis – Residential School Boy (“Haircut”)Carter Simon – Residential School BoyColton Clause – Residential School Boy
Glen Gaston – MinisterBilly Parrott – Teacher
Alanis Obomsawin – Voice of “Pearl” (French Version)
Joseph Boyden – Closing Narration
Rachelle White Wind – Kids VoicesCraig Lauzon – Kids Voices
Luke O’Reagan – Kids Voices
Director — Shane Belcourt
Writer — Joseph Boyden
Producers — Michelle St. John and Jeremy Edwardes
Executive Producers — Jim Compton and Todd Ivey
Director of Photography — James Klopko
Editor & Composer — Jordan O’Connor DMT & Assistant Editor — John Reed Hryszkiewicz
Production Designer — David Hannan
Property Master — Dan Wood Set Decorator — Carolee Custus
Costume Designer — Erika Iserhoff
Costume Assistant — Chrystal KingKey Make Up & Hair — Rachelle White Wind
Assistant Make Up & Hair — Samantha Doxtator
1st Assistant Director — Adam Mahaffey3rd Assistant Director — Roxann Whitebean
Locations Manager & Transportation Coordinator — Kristi Lane Sinclair
1st Assistant Camera — Mark Moher2nd Assistant Camera — Michael YablonskiSound Recordist/Drone Operator — Tony WallaceKey Gaffer — Ryan HernandezKey Gaffer — Bryan BrooksBest Boy — Ryan Seifert
Best Boy — Kay Grospe
Key Grip — Miles Ruiz BarnesBest Boy — Taylor Palmer
Generator Operator — Rich Pryce
Script Supervisor — Jessica Lea Fleming
Stills Photographer — Keesic Douglas and Behind-the-scenes-videographer
Stunt Coordinator — Flint Eagle
Safety Assistant — Tes AndemariamMedic — Andrea ReesLocations & Transport Assistant — Aimee RochardProduction Assistant — Semiah Smith
Craft Service — Frankie PyeCraft Service — Suzanne BelcourtCraft Service — Mark Raddatz
Children’s Casting — Michelle Farmer
Casting Director — Duane Murray
Voice Over Recording — Dave Angell & Dining Room Studios
Post Audio and Colour Mix — Urban Post


Naskumituwin” Heritage Minute

About

The Breath was hired on to work with Historica Canada to make two Heritage Minutes. Director Shane Belcourt and Producer Michelle St. John worked closely with screenwriter Joseph Campbell to bring these challenging issues into one-minute education spots.

Synopsis

The making of Treaty 9 from the perspective of historical witness George Spence, an 18-year-old Cree hunter from Albany, James Bay. The 83rd Heritage Minute in Historica Canada’s collection.

Credits

FULL “NASKUMITUWIN” CREDITS

Rosary Spence — Story Consultant and NarratorAndrew Martin – George SpenceGarrett C. Smith – Andrew WesleyDavid Tompa – Duncan Campbell ScottEd Heeley – George McMartinMike Tyrell – Dominion Police OfficerPatti Shaughnessy – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantSimon Paul – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantJames Whetung – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantNimkii Osawamick – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantWendell Froman – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantMargaret Knott – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantMarnie Williams – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantLiz Osawamick – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantCherish Blood – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantGeorgie Horton Baptiste – First Nations Treaty 9 ParticipantAlanis Obomsawin – Closing Narration
Rachelle White Wind – “Rosary” Narration in French
Craig Lauzon – “Scott” French Dubs
Director — Shane Belcourt
Writer — Joseph Boyden
Producers — Michelle St. John and Jeremy Edwardes
Executive Producers — Jim Compton and Todd Ivey
Director of Photography — James Klopko
Editor & Composer — Jordan O’Connor DMT & Assistant Editor — John Reed Hryszkiewicz
Production Designer — David Hannan
Property Master — Dan WoodSet Decorator — Carolee Custus
Art Department Assistant — Jim Clarke
Costume Designer — Erika Iserhoff
Costume Assistant — Felipe Vintena Key Make Up — Summer Garcia
Assistant Make Up — Moira Garr
Key Hair Dresser — Israel Garcia
1st Assistant Director — Adam Mahaffey3rd Assistant Director — Guilia Ardizzone
Locations Manager & Transportation Coordinator — Kristi Lane Sinclair
1st Assistant Camera — Mark Moher2nd Assistant Camera — Michael YablonskiSound Recordist — Tony WallaceKey Gaffer — Ryan HernandezBest Boy — Ryan Seifert
Key Grip — Miles Ruiz BarnesBest Boy — Taylor Palmer
Generator Operator — Rich Pryce
Script Supervisor — Jessica Lea Fleming
Stills Photographer — Keesic Douglas and Behind-the-scenes-videographer
Stunt Coordinator — Flint Eagle
Safety Assistant — Tes AndemariamMedic — Andrea ReesLocations & Transport Assistant — Aimee Rochard
Transportation Assistant — Catherine Stefanizzi
Craft Service — Frankie PyeCraft Service — Suzanne BelcourtCraft Service — Falen Johnson
Background Casting — Patti ShaughnessyCasting Director — Duane Murray
Post Audio and Colour Mix — Urban Post


UNBAN NATIVE GIRL

ABOUT

Urban Native Girl is a 13-part half-hour POV documentary series for APTN that will make it’s broadcast premiere in June 2016(exact schedule details to come). After series co-creators Lisa Charleyboy and Shane Belcourt pitch the series at the Banff World Media Festival in 2012, they went on to a development deal with APTN, that eventually led to the series green light! Shooting took place in the Fall of 2015 in Ontario, Manitoba, Alberta, and British Columbia with Shane Belcourt as Director and DP, Lisa as POV “host”, along with an all-aboriginal crew led by Production Manager and Associate Producer Michelle St. John. Urban Native Girl is a Jeremy Edwardes and Jim Compton Production, of Wabunganung Film Company Ltd.

LOGLINE

At a time when print media is on a sharp decline, Lisa Charleyboy, a beautiful and determined Tsilhqot’in entrepreneur, sets out to transform her small online blog – “Pop Culture with an Indigenous Twist” – into successful print magazine in the hopes of creating a world wide, recognizable brand that amplifies the voices of the Indigenous renaissance of our time.

PRODUCTION DETAILS – all 13 Episodes

Created by Shane Belcourt & Lisa Charleyboy
Directed by Shane Belcourt
Written by Shane Belcourt, Lisa Charleyboy, Jordan O’Connor, and Duane Murray

[Episode 5 written with Cole Alvis and Episode 10 written with Falen Johnson] Produced by Jim Compton, Jeremy Edwardes, and Todd Ivey
Associate Producer Michelle St. John
Director of Photography Shane Belcourt
Additional Shooting by Amanda Strong, Keesic Douglas, and John Reed Hryszkiewicz
Drone Operation and Location Sound Recording by Tony Wallace
Production Design by David Hannan
Edit by Jordan O’Connor & John Reed Hryszkiewicz
Sound and Score by Jordan O’Connor
Titles, Colour Correction, and DM by John Reed Hryszkiewicz

 

Run Time: 13 Episodes, 22 mins each
Format: HD Video (Canon 1DC 4k, Canon C100 w/ Blade, GoPro 3+, Blackmagic Pocket, Blackmagic 4k)
APTN Air Dates: Summer 2016

SEASON ONE REVIEW

In Season One of Urban Native Girl (a 13 x 22-minute documentary series) we met and came to understand the struggles and hopes of Lisa Charleyboy; a fashionista, entrepreneur, and urban Indigenous innovator. After years of slogging through both the fashion and journalism world — being told that glamour and Aboriginal don’t mix – Lisa set out to transform her small online blog into a glossy print magazine in the hopes of launching an international brand.

Season One Episodes were:

EP#1 – “Is Print Really Dead?”
In the pilot episode we meet Lisa as she takes her dream to industry insiders and asks: is there a place for an urban native magazine as the print industry is retracting? This episode features interviews with Shelley Ambrose (The Walrus), Jamie Monastyrski (Spirit Magazine), and Lorraine Zander (Faze Magazine).

EP#2 – “Clock’s Ticking”
It’s the feature spread photo shoot, everyone’s late and falling behind, can Lisa pull it together or is this business off to a bumpy start? This episode features Dene designer Sage Paul, photographer Keesic Douglas, and rising star models Logan Staats, Brendt Diabo, and Jayli Wolf.

EP#3 – “Is Blood Thicker Than Love?”
Lisa questions the CBC Aboriginal article called “Bloodlines” that she wrote the previous year. It raised emotions on both sides of the argument; that Indigenous people should only have children with their own to preserve the culture and bloodlines. This episode features interviews with Pam Palmater, Niigaan Sinclair, and Derek Miller.

EP#4 – “Lisa vs Lisa”
Part Two of the re-thinking of Lisa’s “Bloodlines” article, only this time the question doesn’t go to others, Lisa looks in the mirror and asks herself some hard questions. This episode features interviews with Michaela Washburn, Leslie McCue, Lindy Kinoshameg, and a musical performance by Iskwe.

EP#5 – “Gay? Queer? Two-Spirited? … Human Being”
Lisa sends Métis writer Cole Alvis into Toronto’s two-spirit community to explore identity and identification. This episode features interviews with Theo Ross, Cris Derksen, and EJ Kwandibens.

EP#6 – “Head-Dressed Halloween Anyone?”
Lisa explores the issues of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. This episode feature interviews with writer Kim Wheeler, artist Erika Iserhoff, and designer Sage Paul.

EP#7 – “Nothing Breeds Success Like … Questioning Everything”
Lisa seeks a better understanding of how we should define “success” in the Indigenous community; money? culture? can we have both? This episode features interviews with Dr. Evan Adams, Gabrielle Scrimshaw, and JP Gladu.

EP#8 – “Walking With Our Sisters”
Lisa explores the heart-breaking issue of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls. This episode features interviews with Maria Campbell, Christi Belcourt, and Nahanni Fontaine.

EP#9 – “Muddy Waters”
Lisa travels to Winnipeg, the Urban Aboriginal Capital of Canada; a city on the rise or a city mired in racism and struggle? This episode features interviews with Sean McCormick, Waneek Horn Miller, and Alan Greyeyes.

EP#10 – “Should I Stay Or Should I Go?”
Lisa sends writer and Six Nations part-time resident Falen Johnson into her reserve to explore the push and pull of Reserve life. This episode features interviews with Santee Smith, Cheri Maracle, and a round-table discussion with Falen’s family.

EP#11 – “Land Title = Game Changer”
Lisa travels to her home community to speak with the Tsilhqot’in Chiefs, central to the historic Land Title settlement. This isn’t “Treaty”, this is “Title”, and this changes everything. This episode features interviews with Chief Joe Alphonse, Crystal Verhaeghe, Chief Percy Guichon, and Chief Roger William.

EP#12 – “Out of the Shadows, Into the Arms of Community”
Lisa’s father, a former Tsihlqot’in Chief and Residential School Survivor, committed suicide when Lisa was 4 years old, which fractured the family, and ostracized them from the community. Can these wounds ever be healed?

EP#13 – “The End is Just a Starting Point”
Lisa and her team struggle to get all the pieces together for Urban Native Magazine, and then celebrates with the Toronto Indigenous community … what does the future hold now?


 

Kaha:wi - The cycle of Life

 

This is a one-hour performance arts documentary that will air on APTN in 2014.  The film is directed by Shane Belcourt featuring Santee Smith, the acclaimed Mohawk dancer and choreographer of Kaha:wi : The Cycle of Life. A documentary dance journey through the spirit realm, into life, and the celebration of love and community.

Updates to come on screenings.

For all the latest and more info please check out the Facebook site: https://www.facebook.com/KahawiTheCycleOfLife

Project: Kaha:wi – the cycle of life
Year: 2014
Duration: 45 mins
Genre: performance arts documentary
Directed by Shane Belcourt
Based on the original work “Kaha:wi” by Santee Smith
Produced by Jim Compton & Jeremy Edwardes
Cinematography by James Klopko
Production Design by David Hannan
Edit & Score by Jordan O’Connor
Starring: Santee Smith, Garret Smith, Emily Law, and Michael Dempski


A COMMON EXPERIENCE

A Common Experience is a short film that I had the honour of creating with Yvette Nolan, which is based on her play “Dear Mr. Buchwald.”  The film is a poetic reflection on what it means to be a child of a residential school survivor.  For Yvette the creative work began in reaction to filing her mother’s Residential School Common Experience Claim.  For me as a filmmaker it was about just scratching the surface of Yvette’s experience, her mothers experience, and the complexity of emotions and realties that are left in the wake of the Residential School system.  While my father wasn’t in Residential School, in fact our family way back wouldn’t enlist in the Treaty where they were in order to avoid having to send their kids to one of these schools, there are similarities in terms of not being allowed to speak the language in class, being bullied and beaten by teachers, etc.  I guess you could say, my connection to this film is that sense and struggle to understand and forgive and live with the effects of colonization as it plays out over many generations.  I hope more than anything that this is a film that honours Yvette and her mother, Helen Thundercloud.

I want to mention that the key collaborators on this were the usual suspects of Duane Murray (producer), David Hannan (production designer), and Jordan O’Connor (editor, sound, and score).  And I was thrilled to work with Daniel Grant (cinematographer) for the first time – a truly gifted artist.  And when you get a chance to see it, it was Lilia Greyeyes first experience acting … and she was stunning and brave.

And hey, this film would not have been possible if it were not for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council.  They came in and made this work and collaboration happen.

The film was selected by Telefilm Canada to screen in Cannes Film Festival Market in 2013. It has since screened at many festivals around the world including imagineNATIVE Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival, Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, Skabmagovat (Finland), among others.

Project: A Common Experience
Year: 2013
Duration: 11 mins
Genre: Short Drama
Directed by Shane Belcourt
Written by Shane Belcourt & Yvette Nolan
Produced by Duane Murray & Shane Belcourt
Cinematography by Daniel Grant
Edit, Sound, & Score by Jordan O’Connor
Production Design By David Hannan
Starring: Yvette Nolan & Lilia Greyeyes

Visit the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ACommonExperience

Download A Common Experience Promo/Media Kit


Apikiwiyak

About

Although the film works as a stand-alone short film, it was original conceived as a special presentation piece at the 2014 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Since the festival was celebrating their 15th year they wanted to do something special as a dedication to “Storytellers”. From the 2014 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival program:

Experience cinema-based storytelling in a new way at this remarkable, not-to-be missed presentation.  In celebration of imagineNATIVE’s 15th anniversary, two pairs of artists – each comprising one author and one filmmaker – collaborated to create a “storyteller screening”: a screen-based video work that accompanies a live reading.  For each of the two presentations, the author will read a new short story written especially for this event as the filmmaker’s new video work plays simultaneously, creating a multimedia performance that transcends screen and stage. Legendary author, artist, and activist Maria Campbell shares a new story created in collaboration with Shane Belcourt, one of the leading filmmakers in Canadian Indigenous cinema. Their counterparts are Joseph Boyden, one of Canada’s true literary stars, who presents work with Terril Calder, a master of animation. Together these artists – each from a Metis or mixed culture – combine craft, transcend media and explore new territory to tell a story unlike any other.

Synopsis

Violence against Indigenous woman is something we’d all like to sweep under the rug … both in mainstream Canadian society and within Indigenous families ourselves.  It’s occurred for hundreds of years and is now ever present, and it is brutal and disgusting. Maria Campbell, an acclaimed Metis author from Saskatchewan, knows much about these sad realities in our communities.  In this work, Maria sets out to hold a mirror out for Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people to peer into the never-ending legacy of colonial violence.  In collaboration Shane Belcourt, the video is a series of heartbreaking vignettes, all wrapped around the imagery of a man in ceremony looking for hope and calling for the ancestors to help us all get back on the good road home.

Production Details

Written by Maria Campbell

Directed by Shane Belcourt

Produced by Michelle St. John

Co-Produced by Duane Murray

Cast – Maria Campbell (Elder) , Bruce Naokwegijig (Faster), Semiah Smith (Teen), Patti Shaughnessy (Mother), Ed Cooper (Truck Driver), Santee Smith (Wife), Wayne Neegan (Husband)

Production Design by David Hannan

Cinematography by James Klopko

Edit, Sound, Score by Jordan O’Connor

Hair, Make-Up, Wardrobe by Carolee Custus

Sound Recordist Nigel Irwin

Production Assistant Cole Alvis

Caterer Cailin Bator

Made for the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

Funding from The Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council

Run Time: 13 mins

Shooting Format: HD Digital Capture

Screening Format: Quicktime file or BluRay Disc; B&W and Colour; Stereo


TKARONTO

About

In 2007 The Breath’s debut feature film, Tkaronto, made it’s world premiere at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada. As the Closing Night film it played to a sold out audience and quickly was sold to Kinosmith for distribution. Shortly thereafter it toured various films festivals picking up Directing Awards and glowing reviews for both the lead actors (and always a shout-out to Lorne Cardinal performance!). It was sold to Air Canada and SuperChannel, screened as part of the 150th Anniversary at Toronto’s City Hall, has been included in many Indigenous studies screenings, and was included in the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Indigenous Cinema Retrospective.  Director Shane Belcourt’s favourite accolade is its inclusion in Thomas King’s international best-seller, Inconvenient Indian, wherein he mentions Tkaronto as part of a new empowered movement in Indigenous Cinema (as a good thing!).

While the film screened at both film festivals and during it’s limited theatrical release, it received numerous glowing reviews. However, it was the first review it received by Jason Anderson at Eye Weekly that set the tone for things to come:

“The quality of writer-director Shane Belcourt’s feature debut – named after our city’s original Mohawk name – is all the more remarkable when you consider that it was made in six months on a measly budget of $20,000. Based on Belcourt’s experience as the son of a Métis father, the movie portrays the crises of Jolene and Ray (Duane Murray), two thirty-somethings who can’t figure out a way to square up their urban lifestyles and material ambitions with what an elder (played by Lorne Cardinal) calls “blood memory.” But for all of Tkaronto‘s heavy themes, the film has a sense of lightness that makes it one of the year’s most appealing local indie features.”

Synopsis

Tkaronto is a reflective and provoking exploration of two Aboriginal 30-somethings, Ray and Jolene, who make an unexpected connection at the pinnacle of a common struggle: to stake claim to their urban aboriginal identity.

Ray Morin, A Métis writer, is in Tkaronto (the original Mohawk word for “Toronto”) to pitch his TV series, Indian Jones. This looks to be his big break. The only problem is Ray’s growing disdain for TV execs who are more motivated by ticking off the Aboriginal box and tapping into “hot” Aboriginal funding than they are genuinely interested in the project itself. Ray feels caught between a rock and a hard place as his non-aboriginal wife puts the pressure on for him to take the job.

Jolene Peltier, an Anishnabe painter, is in Tkaronto conducting interviews for a series of portraits on prominent Aboriginal people. When Elder Max Cardinal gives her an eagle feather and sweetgrass, it confirms her deep-seated feeling that she should walk a spiritual path. But can walking this path mean the end of her relationship with her husband who seems utterly disinterested in Jolene’s newfound spiritual calling?

For Ray and Jolene, home feels very far away. And having this chance meeting with each other only raises a difficult question: would their questions of identity be answered if they were together?

Production Details

Written & Directed by Shane Belcourt

Produced by Duane Murray, Shane Belcourt, & Jordan O’Connor

Executive Producer Michael Corbiere

Production Design by David Hannan

Shot by Shane Belcourt

Edit, Sound, & Score by Jordan O’Connor

Staring: Melanie McClaren, Duane Murray, Lorne Cardinal, and Cheri Maracle

Run Time: 105 mins

Format: HD Video (Panasonic HVX 200 with Red Rock Micro Adaptor)

Release Date: October 2007

Distributed by Kinosmith