‘Now is the time,’ Six Indigenous movies that capture Indigeneity

Native zombie killers are immune to the zombie’s bite and New Zealand director of 'Thor Ragnarok' portrays Hitler in a WWII spoof

As an organization that is “dedicated to presenting the best of international and Canadian cinema and creating transformational experiences for film lovers and creators of all ages and backgrounds,” the Toronto Film Festival, also popularly referred to as TIFF, released a surprisingly rich selection of Native and Indigenous-related movie premieres that would surely be of interest to film aficionados interested in Indian Country.

From Native zombie killers immune to the zombie’s bite to the New Zealand director of Thor Ragnarok that portrays Hitler in a racially-based World War II spoof, to a documentary on Mohawk musician Robbie Robertson, the film festival had something for nearly every pallet.

Here are the movie descriptions and movie trailers (if available) that showed at the world-renowned Toronto Film Festival

Note: The descriptions of these films are from the Toronto Film Festival website with a link to each film page below. There will be further coverage, reviews and more in the days to follow in Indian Country Today.

Jojo Rabbit

Jojo Rabbit
Courtesy Tiff

Thor Ragnarok director and New Zealander Taika Waititi plays Hitler in a spoof on racism taking place in World War II.

Jojo Rabbit description page: Taika Waititi directs a riotous cast — including Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Rebel Wilson, Thomasin McKenzie, and newcomer Roman Griffin Davis — in this daring, touching, and comedic satire about a young German boy who discovers a Jewish girl hiding in his home and consults with his imaginary best friend, Adolf Hitler (Waititi).

Blood Quantum

Blood Quantum

A zombie movie where Native people are immune to the zombie bite. Featuring Native actors Michael Greyeyes, Forrest Goodluck, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kiowa Gordon, Stonehorse Lone Goeman, Brandon Oakes, William Belleau, Gary Farmer, Devery Jacobs and more.

Blood Quantum description page: Jeff Barnaby’s astutely titled second feature is equal parts horror and pointed cultural critique. Zombies are devouring the world, yet an isolated Mi’gmaq community is immune to the plague. Do they offer refuge to the denizens outside their reserve or not?

Lina from Lima

Lina from Lina

An Indigenous musical about a Peruvian migrant worker

Lina from Lima description page: The issue of migrant labor gets a winningly light touch in this musical comedy — and debut fiction film — from documentarian María Paz González, about a Peruvian woman working as a domestic helper for a wealthy Chilean family who prepares for a trip home to visit the son she left behind.

Black Bitch

Black Bitch

About an Australian Indigenous lawyer. There has been controversy as you might imagine due to the title on social media.

Black Bitch description page: A local Indigenous politician (Deborah Mailman) is recruited to the senate by the Australian Prime Minister (Rachel Griffiths) after a contentious video goes viral, in Rachel Perkins' drama about systemic injustice and the complexities of political change.

Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band

Once Were Brothers - Robbie Robertson and The Band

A documentary on the Mohawk musical icon Robbie Robertson.

Once were brothers description page: Directed by Daniel Roher (Ghosts of Our Forest) and executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer, and Ron Howard, the feature documentary follows Robertson from his early life in Toronto and on the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve, in Southern Ontario, to the creation of legendary roots-rock group The Band.

Now is the Time

Now is the Time

1969 documentary on the carving and raising of the first Haida totem pole in over a century

Now is the Time description page (short cuts programs): A 1969 documentary on the carving and raising of the first Haida totem pole in over a century becomes the springboard for a film that restores fullness and richness to the larger story of a nation’s resurgent identity.

Christopher Auchter is a Haida filmmaker and animator. He has written, directed, and animated the short The Mountain of SGaana. Now Is the Time is his latest film.

There were additional selections of interest at the Toronto Film Festival / TIFF such as One Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk, The Australian Dream, The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão and more. 

Access the full list of films on the film festival website at https://tiff.net/.

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Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling and Instagram - @VinceSchilling

Email - vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com

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