The NFB – A Resource for Aboriginal Documentaries

While looking for Canadian Indigenous films to augment Nanook of the North, I found myself visiting the National Film Board of Canada.  The NFB site has a section dedicated to the Aboriginal Perspective in film from 1940-2004.  The thirty –two Aboriginal documentaries are organized thematically: arts, cinema and representation, colonialism and racism, history and origins, Indigenous knowledge, sovereignty and resistance, and youth.

Within this collection there are films made by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.  Stereotypes are rampant, however the collection provides a starting point for critically analyzing Indigenous stereotypes in Canadian Film.  The 1943 Eskimo Arts and Crafts film perpetuates many stereotypes of the Inuit.  Upon seeing Robert Flaherty’s name as a consultant on the film, I began to further understand his role in creating the media’s Aboriginal persona of the time.  This documentary, along with many others, would be appropriate Canadian content for teachers wishing to compare and contrast historical media stereotypes of Indigenous people.  It would be interesting to analyze Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal films, thereby encouraging critical thinking about Indigenous stereotypes and media literacy in our students.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

Reel Injun

A  documentary film created by a Canadian Cree filmmaker to highlight and then debunk the stereotypes of Indigenous people in film.  The Reel Injun website has reviews and clips, as well as a link to their Youtube channel with clips from films that perpetuate Indigenous stereotyping.  This film and the website helped me understand and deconstruct indigenous stereotypes in film.  A review of particular interest is Xavier Kataquapit’s, an Indigenous comedian, who wrote a blog post and orally recorded it for the website.  “In one hour, ‘Reel Injun’ gave me a healthy and informative perspective on the history of how my people are perceived in this world.”  His perspective helped me further understand storytelling and the importance of this film to Indigenous people, as well as the general public.

Viewing this film in the Social Studies or English classroom, along with a historical documentary such as Nanook of the North or an NFB film, would enable students to actively visualize indigenous stereotypes and critically assess their impact.

October 11, 2012   No Comments

8th Fire

The blatant stereotyping and exaggerations of Nanook of the North reminded me of the importance of deconstructing stereotypes in film, thus I gravitated towards finding appropriate Indigenous film resources for the classroom.   8th Fire is a CBC documentary film series about the relationship between Aboriginal people and other Canadians.  The website has a plethora of resources on Aboriginal perspective, history and stereotypes.  Although only a couple of clips from 8th Fire can be viewed on line, there are multiple other videos in which Aboriginal people are interviewed.  These short videos provide perspective on Aboriginal tradition, culture, politics, stereotypes and rights.  The videos have the potential for sharing Aboriginal culture and issues with non-Aboriginal students, but also with Aboriginal students.  As with any media, teachers would have to encourage critical viewing and media literacy when viewing the videos.

Another interesting aspect of the site is the Aboriginal Filmmaker section.  Because I am researching how to support Aboriginal students in their studies, I found the personal stories about the filmmakers quite engaging.  The written word combined with the digital stories about their experiences, family and traditions provided another layer of depth to this site.  I would be interested to see how Aboriginal students receive these stories, if they connect with the filmmakers, and if students would be motivated to create their own videos.

October 11, 2012   No Comments