In many instances, it is the artists who are currently shaping an aesthetics of Indigenous resilience. Art, in its many forms, can have an almost synesthesia effect where the senses seem to blur so that messages and feelings are conveyed with almost visceral precision. Thirza Cuthand’s work has been on our radar for a while. Their use of humour to address complex issues through film seems effortless, though we know it was anything but! The pieces screened at the Indigenous Film Symposium, Feb 12th 2018:
- Love & Numbers (2004) 7m45s
- You Are a Lesbian Vampire (2008) 3m20s
- Boi Oh Boi (2012) 9m32s
- Helpless Maiden Makes an “I” Statement (1999) 1m50s
- 2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 (2015) 4m55s
- Just Dandy (2013) 7m37s
Thirza’s keynote painted a picture of their path to film, which was, in part, a way to cope with loneliness as a youth, but also came from a desire to create more complex representations of Indigenous peoples on film. That lack of representation turned into a place of empowerment because there was space to create characters that spoke to struggles with love, sexuality, gender representation, all within a colonial context, fraught with violence, and often with a heavy dose of white LGBTQness that overshadows Indigenous queer experiences.
On a personal note, I (sara) think my favs are Helpless Maiden Makes and “I” Statement and Boi Oh Boi. Both tell you a story about relationships, with yourself, and with a lover. Both made me laugh and also threw me deep into this quiet stillness of thought. I highly suggest watching all of them though, and checking out Thirza’s blog, they’re cool, hands-down. Hope to have Thirza back again.
Following our Intermission (our creative way to say lunch), Danni Black and Jacquie from the Treaty 7 Film Collective facilitated a film making workshop, explaining the ins and outs, the good, bad, and the beautiful about their creative process and working to provide support for aspiring Indigenous film makers. We’ve got so much respect for this crew, who sought permission from the Aboriginal Filmmakers Collective in Winnipeg to organize from Calgary. Our audience loved this workshop. There was a lot of interest from BIPOC audience members to start a collective in Edmonton. Wow. Check out and support the Treaty 7 Film Collective, we hope to host them again and again.
Sign-up and stay tuned for future free events like this one!
~ We’d like to thank the UofA’s APIRG and the Native Studies Student Association for support and collaborative efforts ~
BIOs of the cool people:
Thirza Jean Cuthand was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, and grew up in Saskatoon. Since 1995 they have been making short experimental narrative videos and films about sexuality, madness, youth, love, and race, which have screened in festivals internationally, including the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, Mix Brasil Festival of Sexual Diversity in Sao Paolo, Hot Docs in Toronto, ImagineNATIVE in Toronto, Frameline in San Francisco, Outfest in Los Angeles, and Oberhausen International Short Film Festival in Germany where their short “Helpless Maiden Makes an ‘I” Statement” won honourable mention. They completed their BFA majoring in Film and Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, and their Masters of Arts in Media Production at Ryerson University. In 1999 they were an artist in residence at Videopool and Urban Shaman in Winnipeg, where they completed Through The Looking Glass. In 2012 they were an artist in residence at Villa K. Magdalena in Hamburg, Germany, where they completed “Boi Oh Boi.” In 2015 they were commissioned by ImagineNATIVE to make “2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99.” In the summer of 2016 they began working on a 2D video game called A Bipolar Journey based on their experience learning and dealing with their bipolar disorder. It showed at ImagineNATIVE and they are planning to further develop it. They have also written three feature screenplays and sometimes does performance art. They are of Plains Cree and Scots descent, a member of Little Pine First Nation, and currently reside in Toronto.
Danielle (Danni) Black, or Sui Taa Kik (Sue-Da-Gee) is a Niitsitapi Two-Spirit filmmaker, writer, and grassroots community organizer. She founded the Treaty 7 Film Collective, writes for FREQ magazine covering Indigenous focused topics, and was one of the chosen artists for the City of Calgary’s Indigenous Artist Residency where she will be doing research on Indigenous youth and their relationship to their language growing up in urban settings.