Gale Courey Toensing
Of the 47 films that screened at the Montreal First Peoples Festival from July 30 through August 5, these trailers showcase the standouts that won awards.

Short and Sweet: Must-See Trailers From the Montreal First Peoples Festival's Top Choices


The films that won prizes at the Montreal First Peoples Festival this year had one thing in common: their uncanny ability to take indigenous thought, feeling and experience that are beyond words, and translate these elements to the screen. Below are trailers from the batch of winners.

RELATED: Residential School Survival Drama ‘Healing Winds’ Takes Grand Prize at Montreal First Peoples Festival

The Healing Winds, by Joël Montañez, Grand Prize

The Grand Prize winner garnered its award “for this freedom of expression that eliminates borders between genres, while casting light on imperceptible historical imprints that have shaped the present, for fictional craftsmanship that makes the underlying reality of things surge up like a geyser, after cracking open the imaginary worlds veiling it,” said festival organizers upon announcing that The Healing Winds by Joël Montañez, had won top billing “for this sovereign originality in form that, with rigor and sensitivity, makes visible the intergenerational traumas affecting the lives of Inuit communities, beyond the image.”

The trailer is online.

Tunteyh o el Rumor de las Piedras, by Marina Rubino, Second Prize

“For the osmotic relation it establishes with an indigenous reality too complex to be grasped by an outside eye; for the depiction in film of time lived day by day in a Guarani community, suspended between millennial wisdom and adaptation to the present, for its cinematographic approach full of deference to the mystery of life, at once an ethical posture and an homage to Amerindian thought.”

RELATED: Guarani Filmmaker Sharing More Than Just Films

Le Chant de la Fleur, Rigoberto Menchu Award—Communities

This story of the Sarayaku people struggling against an oil company is a “work that reminds us that the North-South binary is out of date now that threats are global,” the judges said, “that in the 21st century, humanity cannot be divided up according to geography and culture but only by the stance taken by each person: revolt or submission, in the face of economic machines that destroy natural environments and human societies; for a convincing demonstration, with direct evidence, that the words ‘solidarity’ and ‘hope’ still have meaning and that a resolute Indigenous community can succeed in making the most voracious multinationals back down despite their ogreish appetite for destruction.”

Crazywater (Eau de Feu), by Dennis Allen,Rigoberto Menchu Award, Second Place

This film won for its portrayal of a recovery from alcoholism and all the effort that such an endeavor entails.

“For a man, overcoming alcoholism is more than changing his own life; it means wanting to change LIFE itself,” the festival judges said in their comments. “Dennis Allen’s documentary reminds us that while alcohol has become a part of Amerindian history, never for the better, and almost always for the worst, overcoming this intimate enemy is a truly revolutionary process.”

The trailer can be viewed at the National Film Board of Canada’s website.

The Orphan and the Polar Bear, by Neil Christopher, Animation Award

This retelling of a children’s tale won for its “faithful cinematic transposition of a tale from Inuit imagination; for the quality of the animation that fully conveys the dramatic nature of a story that is part of the rich legacy of Northern legends.”

See more information about  The Orphan and the Polar Bear.


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