________________ CM . . . . Volume XV Number 13. . . .February 20, 2009.


First Stories Volume II.

Montreal, PQ: National Film Board of Canada, 2007.
34 min., DVD, $99.95.
Order Number: 153C 9107 027.

Subject Heading:
Indians of North America-Social life and customs.

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Linda Wood.






Power of a Horse - Cory Generoux

Life Givers: Honouring Our Elders and Children - Janine Windolph

O Mother, Where Art Thou? - Paul John Swidersky

ati-wihcasin (It's Getting Easier) - Tessa Desnomie

     While Saskatchewan has attracted its fair share of stars from as far away as Hollywood to its vast prairie vistas and thriving urban centres, sometimes it is all too easy to neglect our own creative individuals in the process. First Stories: Volume II showcases the work of four new Aboriginal film makers. This compilation follows the success of First Stories: Volume I which took the Silver World Medal for Cultural Issues in The New York Festivals/Festival Competition in 2007.

     It is a daunting task to tell a story in the short format chosen for this series. However, each documentary gave a brief glimpse into its creator's own struggles and triumphs.

Horses don't discriminate based on the color of their coats. A horse is a horse as the horse sees it. (Generoux in “Power of a Horse.”)

     “Power of a Horse” initially uses lyrical prose to capture the sound of a horse's hoof beat. Ultimately, this reflects the heartbeat of passion with which Generoux spurs his short film along.

     He encompasses all the cultural pride and frustration of one who has been both a victim and aggressor in a predominantly racist society. He has been through the justice "system" where nearly everyone in a position of power is Caucasian. His loving relationship with his grandfather, Red Horse, delivers a twist when the viewer suddenly realizes that Generoux's own grandfather is Scottish. As Generoux views others through the lens he uses to see his grandfather, he is able to move towards acceptance.

Some say when a child dies, you lose your future and when an elder dies, you lose your past. (Windolph in “Life Givers.”)

     “Life Givers” covers the extremely personal journey of life, death and rebirth honoring both children and elders who have passed. The main focus is on the death of Windolph's own premature daughter, Heaven.

     The images of a close-knit family unit continually surround her with love, tradition, culture and acceptance. Through the help and wisdom of her older female relatives, Windolph is able to survive her unique healing journey.

Do you think your real mom and family are doing this too?" (Swiderski's cousin in “O Mother, Where Art Thou?”)

     “O Mother, Where Art Thou?” encompasses all the mixed emotions of anyone who has ever been adopted. Swiderski's feelings of isolation and loss come to a head during a family holiday meal further adding to his alienation. While he loves and appreciates his adoptive family, a part of him yearns to discover his past.

     A must watch is Tessa Desnomie's film “ati-wihcasin” (It's Getting Easier) the grandmother's gifts of simplicity, humor and love for her granddaughter are very clear. She uses the oral tradition of passing down stories within a family. This utilizes the time spent teaching wood lore and handicrafts to pass on important family heritage and traditions. A caring grandmother, in any culture, is a grandchild's first and best teacher.

Highly Recommended.

Linda Wood is a journalist and tutor in Saskatoon, SK.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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