Reverse Shots: Indigenous Film and Media in an International Context by Wendy Gay Pearson

105b321d16503f7-261x361.jpg Author Wendy Gay Pearson
Isbn 9781554583355
File size 5.4MB
Year 2014
Pages 392
Language English
File format PDF
Category cinema


Reverse Shots Film and Media Studies Series Film studies is the critical exploration of cinematic texts as art and entertainment, as well as the industries that produce them and the audiences that consume them. Although a medium barely one hundred years old, film is already transformed through the emergence of new media forms. Media studies is an interdisciplinary field that considers the nature and effects of mass media upon individuals and society and analyzes media content and representations. Despite changing modes of consumption—especially the proliferation of individuated viewing technologies—film has retained its cultural dominance into the 21st century, and it is this transformative moment that the WLU Press Film and Media Studies series addresses. Our Film and Media Studies series includes topics such as identity, gender, sexuality, class, race, visuality, space, music, new media, aesthetics, genre, youth culture, popular culture, consumer culture, regional/national cinemas, film policy, film theory, and film history. Wilfrid Laurier University Press invites submissions. For further information, please contact the Series editors, all of whom are in the Department of English and Film Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University: Dr. Philippa Gates Email: [email protected] Dr. Russell Kilbourn Email: [email protected] Dr. Ute Lischke Email: [email protected] Department of English and Film Studies Wilfrid Laurier University 75 University Avenue West Waterloo, ON N2L 3C5 Canada Phone: 519-884-0710 Fax: 519-884-8307 Reverse Shots Indigenous Film and Media in an International Context Wendy Gay Pearson and Susan Knabe, editors This book has been published with the help of a grant from the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, through the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, using funds provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Wilfrid Laurier University Press acknowledges the financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund for our publishing activities. an Ontario government agency un organisme du gouvernement de l’Ontario Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Reverse shots : indigenous film and media in an international context / Wendy Gay Pearson and Susan Knabe, editors. (Film and media studies series) Includes bibliographical references and index. Issued in print and electronic formats. ISBN 978-1-55458-335-5 (pbk.).—ISBN 978-1-55458-425-3 (pdf).— ISBN 978-1-55458-426-0 (epub) 1. Indigenous films—History and criticism. 2. Indigenous peoples in motion pictures. 3. Indigenous peoples and mass media. I. Knabe, Susan, 1962–, author, editor II. Pearson, Wendy Gay, 1954–, author, editor III. Series: Film and media studies series PN1995.9.I49R49 2015 791.43’63529 C2014-903397-4 C2014-903398-2 R Cover design by Blakeley Words+Pictures. Front-cover image: Coyote o:t Ku’ty (Haute Couture) Series, #1 (mixed media, 2008), by Renée E. Mzinegiizhigo-kwe Bédard. Text design by Daiva Villa, Chris Rowat Design. The chapter “Ka Whawhai Tonu Māou: Indigenous Television in Aotearoar/New Zealand,” by Jo Smith and Sue Abel, appeared in different form in the New Zealand Journal of Media Studies 11.1 (June 2008). © 2015 Wilfrid Laurier University Press Waterloo, Ontario, Canada This book is printed on FSC recycled paper and is certified Ecologo. It is made from 100% post-consumer fibre, processed chlorine free, and manufactured using biogas energy. Printed in Canada Every reasonable effort has been made to acquire permission for copyright material used in this text, and to acknowledge all such indebtedness accurately. Any errors and omissions called to the publisher’s attention will be corrected in future printings. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the publisher or a licence from the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency (Access Copyright). For an Access Copyright licence, visit or call toll free to 1-800-893-5777. Contents List of Illustrations Acknowledgements pa rt i IX XI dr e a m m a k er s i n t roduc t ion Globalizing Indigenous Film and Media Wendy Gay Pearson and Susan Knabe 3 on e He Who Dreams: Reflections on an Indigenous Life in Film Michael Greyeyes pa rt ii 41 dec ol on i z i ng histor ie s t wo Speakin’ Out Blak: New and Emergent Aboriginal Filmmakers Finding Their Voices 6 1 Ernie Blackmore three Taking Pictures B(l)ack: The Work of Tracey Moffatt Susan Knabe 81 V VI CONTENTS f ou r The Journals of Knud Rasmussen: Arctic History as Post/ Colonial Cinema 1 0 3 Kerstin Knopf five Australian Indigenous Short Film as a Pedagogical Device: Introducing Wayne Blair’s The Djarn Djarns and Black Talk Colleen McGloin 131 si x “Once upon a Time in a Land Far, Far Away”: Representations of the Pre-Colonial Wor d in Atanarjuat, Ofelas, and 10 Canoes 1 4 3 Wendy Gay Pearson pa rt iii m edi ati ng pr ac tices se v e n Ka Whawhai Tonu Mātou: Indigenous Television in Aotearoa/ New Zealand 1 7 5 Jo Smith and Sue Abel e igh t Superhighway across the Sky ... Aboriginal New Media Arts in Australia: A Remix and Email Conversation between Adam Szymanski and Jenny Fraser 1 8 9 Jenny Fraser and Adam Szymanski nine On Collectivity and the Limits of Collaboration: Caching Igloolik Video in the South 1 9 9 Erin Morton and Taryn Sirove pa rt i v doc um e n ta ry a pproach e s ten The Prince George Métis Elders Documentary Project: Matching Product with Process in New Forms of Documentary 2 2 1 Stephen Foster and Mike Evans CONTENTS VII eleven “Whacking the Indigenous Funny Bone”: Native Humour and Its Healing Powers in Drew Hayden Taylor’s Redskins, Tricksters, and Puppy Stew 2 3 3 Ute Lischke t w e lv e Situating Indigenous Knowledges: The Talking Back of Alanis Obomsawin and Shelley Niro 2 4 7 Maeghan Pirie t h i rt e e n “ I Wanted to Say How Beautiful We Are”: Cultural Politics in Loretta Todd’s Hands of History 2 6 5 Gail Vanstone pa rt v other perspecti v e s f ou rt e e n Filming Indigeneity as Flânerie: Dialectic and Subtext in Terrance Odette’s Heater 2 8 5 Tanis MacDonald fifteen Playing with Land Issues: Subversive Hybridity in The Price of Milk 3 0 1 Davinia Thornley Glossary 3 1 5 Bibliography Index 3 4 5 319 This page intentionally left blank List of Illustrations 1.1 1.2 Kent Monkman, Crowfoot re-creation photo 5 2 Kent Monkman, untitled installation with screening of A Nation Is Coming (1996) 5 6 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Apak accepts the gift of the salt 1 1 8 Avva relates Inuit intellectual knowledge Nuqallaq and Umik preach 1 2 6 The converted sing hymns 1 2 7 6.1 An unnamed warrior (Johnny Buniyira) holds the camera and stares into the lens 1 5 3 8.1 Aroha Groves, detail from Connections2, virtual reality installation 1 9 2 Burning Daylight, Marrugeku Company, 2009 1 9 4 r e a, detail from maang (messagestick), three-channel DVD and sound installation 1 9 5 Jason Davidson, Falcon Wings for Hope, detail from Street Machine, 2010 1 9 6 Jenny Fraser, detail from Indian Cowboys / Cowboy Indians, video installation, 2009 1 9 7 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 119 10.1 Schematic diagram of interactive structure of DVD 2 2 9 10.2 Screen shot from DVD Studio Pro during production, illustrating interactivity among elements 2 3 0 10.3 Screen shot from Prince George Métis Elder’s Documentary Project, Lac St. Anne interview 2 3 1 10.4 Screen shot from Prince George Métis Elder’s Documentary Project, Elder’s introduction 2 3 1 IX This page intentionally left blank Acknowledgements The editors would like to acknowledge the hard work, patience, and collegiality of all of the contributors to this book. It’s been a long road, but we are very proud of the results. We also want to thank Ute Lischke, David McNab, and Gail Vanstone for their part in the organization of the conference that was the inspiration for this book—“Indigenous Film and Media in an International Context,” held at Wilfrid Laurier University in May 2007. In particular, we want to thank our editor, Lisa Quinn, for her hard work and invaluable advice, as well as the two anonymous reviewers whose generous and helpful comments were an inspiration in getting to the finish line. We would like to thank the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada for their financial support of both the conference and this edited collection. Finally, we would like to thank Renée Bédard for allowing us to use one of her artworks on the cover of the book. XI This page intentionally left blank Part I Dream Makers This page intentionally left blank Introduction Globalizing Indigenous Film and Media W E N D Y G AY P E A R S O N A N D S U S A N K N A B E My work is to educate our people . . . to put them back on the ground where they come from, and also to educate the outside world, to tell them we don’t live in igloos anymore and we’re as involved in highspeed Internet as you are. And when we cry, ice cubes don’t come out of our eyes. — Zacharias Kunuk, qtd. in Sonia Gunderson “Running Fast to Preserve Inuit Culture” The Past in the Present: On Taxidermy, Zombies, Resistance, and Reappropriation Very shortly after the motion picture camera was invented, along with the technology to process film and to screen the results before audiences, Indigenous peoples all over the world suddenly found themselves in front of the lens, their lives and cultures subject to the camera’s apparently indexical relationship to the truth.1 The “truth” produced by these early cameras and the filmmakers behind them was, by and large, a visual exploration and commemoration of what were assumed, at the start of the twentieth century, to be rapidly vanishing Indigenous lives and cultures.2 This is the story behind, for example, Robert Flaherty’s famous—perhaps infamous— Nanook of the North (1922). Fatimah Tobing Rony writes that in film history, Nanook is, importantly, “seen as a point of origin: it has been called the first documentary film, the first ethnographic film, as well as the first art film” (99). But, as Rony and other contemporary scholars examining Nanook have revealed, this well-known narrative of Indigenous peoples and film is at best partial and at worst inaccurate. Rony argues that in their hunt for “authenticity,” ethnographers like Flaherty produce “frozen images” that are “akin 3 4 W E N DY G AY P E A R S O N A N D S U S A N K N A B E to cinematic taxidermy” (99). She notes that “since indigenous peoples were assumed to be already dying if not dead, the ethnographic ‘taxidermist’ turned to artifice, seeking an image more true to the posited original. When Flaherty stated, ‘One often has to distort a thing to catch its true spirit,’ he was not just referring to his own artistry but to the preconditions for the effective, ‘true’ representation of so-called vanishing culture” (102). At its most negative, ethnographic film might be said to produce Indigenous peoples as zombies, simultaneously dead and alive (reflecting as well the spirit of taxidermy, which is to make the dead object look alive), or perhaps alive despite having been declared dead. That, too, is the result of colonization, which from the mid-nineteenth century worked hard in most settler/invader countries to produce non-Indigenous people inside Indigenous skins. The zombie image, more popularly accessible than the more academic notion of taxidermy, has a real power, one very successfully exploited in Lisa Jackson’s short film Savage (2009), where a young girl delivered to a residential school in the 1950s arrives to find that her classmates-to-be have been transformed into zombies. The whiteness of their faces reflects the “whitening” of their self-understanding as cultural subjects—something the film emphasizes through irony when the children dance, ahistorically, to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Regardless of how the audience understands the whitening of Michael Jackson’s own face, his image undergirds Lisa Jackson’s short film in order to further ironize the colonializing and racializing effects of deculturation. Without disputing the charge of taxidermic practice made against nonIndigenous ethnographic filmmakers or the zombie effects of deculturation, Michelle Raheja has also argued that it is at least as important “to foreground the ways in which the Inuit instructed [Flaherty] on how to work collaboratively, according to their views of social and cultural interaction, as a form of aesthetic and technical diplomacy” (Reservation Reelism, 195). Raheja goes on to argue that the collaborative tradition begun by the Inuit in the 1920s has “carried forward to the present as the collaborative filmmaking projects of artists such as [Chris] Eyre and [Shelley] Niro suggest” (195). It is important to keep in mind Raheja’s thoroughly documented recuperation of Indigenous agency, not only in terms of their own filmmaking practices but also in their collaborations with non-Indigenous artists and filmmakers and even in their attempts to influence and correct the steamroller that is Hollywood’s influence on representation. Thus people interested in Indigenous representation in film and video no longer need to concentrate solely on the “taxidermic” nature of ethnography or the influential stereotype-driven and stereotype-creating effects of the mainstream film industry; instead they can focus on resistance from GLOBALIZING INDIGENOUS FILM AND MEDIA 5 Indigenous people within mainstream and national cinemas even before turning to the filmmaking history of Indigenous peoples themselves. The partiality and inaccuracy of the narrative that positions Indigenous peoples only and always as the ethnographic subjects of the supposedly “white” technology of the motion picture can thus be explored in a number of different directions. That Indigenous peoples have not vanished, despite the fervent wishes of much of the European settler/invader populations (and others, in other parts of the world), seems self-evident. Nevertheless, what is evident to Indigenous peoples themselves and to their allies may not be overtly visible in populist discourse, or may simply prove unpopular with populations that have yet to come to terms with their racist past, let alone acknowledge a racist present. The desire for Indigenous disappearance from what is claimed to be no longer Indigenous land is reinforced by the evidence of both populist and governmental panic when censuses in the early twentieth century began to reveal that, at least in Canada, the Indigenous population was actually growing. Panics over First Nations, Métis, and Inuit population growth have continued throughout the twentieth and now the twenty-first century in relation to the fact that, despite having a lower life expectancy, Indigenous peoples are the fastest-growing group in Canada (in fact, outside of immigration, they are the only group experiencing population growth). Similar increases in Indigenous populations have been noted in Australia, the United States, and parts of Latin America.3 In the Canadian context, Warren Cariou trenchantly asks what this means for Canadians’ ideas of themselves: It is ironic that the entire project of colonialism in North America was predicated upon a very different population prediction: a belief that Native peoples of this continent would inevitably die out when they were faced with the putative superiority of European civilization. The fact that North America’s Native people are not dying out, then, creates a crisis in western culture’s idea of itself. If the Indians are still here, and are even increasing in number, then what does that mean for the legal and moral legitimacy of a colonial culture that has displaced them from their land? The desire for Indigenous disappearance from Canada also reflects historical changes in the relations between First Nations people and settlers. Prior to the War of 1812 (the point at which Indigenous numbers in central Canada began a rapid decline), First Nations people were regarded as valuable allies. By the mid-1850s, however, the paternalistic approach to governing First Nations people was firmly in place: Olive Dickason calls the 6 W E N DY G AY P E A R S O N A N D S U S A N K N A B E First Nations “the most regulated peoples in Canada . . .; their lives would be interfered with at every turn, down to the personal level” (283). Residential schooling was the most effective (and symbolic) result of the shift from regarding First Nations people as sovereign allies (or, indeed, sovereign enemies) to wards of the Crown. In Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, residential schooling, to one degree or another, became the most direct form of deculturation and the locus of governments’ genocidal intent.4 Whether by means of warfare, starvation of Native peoples on inadequate reservation lands, cultural genocide (represented in the United States by the common saying, “Kill the Indian, save the child”), or the Australian “breed the black out” policy, Indigenous peoples in many settler-colonial nations were effectively under attack.5 Acknowledgement and tacit (or overt) approval of the methods and motives of such attacks underlie the taxidermic impulse that Rony identifies. At the same time, however, public racism and/or indifference as well as government policies found themselves confronted by many forms of Indigenous peoples’ resistance. Indigenous film today reflects a tradition begun by the earliest Indigenous filmmakers and by those who saw themselves, even if they were not seen in return, as collaborators in cinematic representation; it is also deeply enmeshed in and responsive to the histories and historical traumas that inform the lives of contemporary Indigenous peoples. In relation to film itself, Raheja’s Reservation Reelism (2010) is an excellent example of the ways in which the common perception that Native Americans were merely Hollywood’s victims, or perhaps its dupes, starts to be dismantled by a more detailed, more complex perspective of the role of “Indians” in Hollywood. Raheja details how Hollywood Indians attempted to take control of their own depictions on film, from the early directorial efforts of James Young Deer (Ho-Chunk) and Edwin Carewe (Chickasaw) to the work of actors like Jay Silverheels (Mohawk) and Lillian St. Cyr (Winnebago). All of these people attempted to influence how Native Americans were represented on screen. Raheja builds on earlier work by scholars such as Faye Ginsburg who have investigated the actual roles that, for example, the Inuit played in the making of Nanook; they not only appeared in front of the camera (which is all that audiences then saw and all that most audiences see even today) but also served as “technicians, camera operators, film developers, and production consultants” (“Screen Memories” 39). Ginsburg also investigates a more institutional shift towards self-representation by Indigenous peoples in her work on the National Film Board of Canada’s (NFB) documentary You Are on Indian Land (1969). While most film histories attribute the film to director Mort Ransen, Farbod Honarpisheh has pointed out that even Ransen himself GLOBALIZING INDIGENOUS FILM AND MEDIA 7 maintained that “the Indian Film Unit6 in general, and [Mike] Mitchell in particular, [were] the main creative forces behind” the documentary (82).7 Ginsburg, however, is more concerned with the historical perspective and particularly with producer George Stoney’s effect on the creation of the Indian Film Unit at the NFB. Ginsburg argues that You Are on Indian Land signaled a crucial shift in assumptions about who should be behind the documentary camera, one that has had a lasting effect on First Nations film and video production in Canada. Stoney’s strong support at the time for the training and equipping of Canada’s first Native film crew, under the leadership of Mohawk activist Mike Mitchell, was a catalytic message to Canada’s First Nations communities, underscoring their concern to represent themselves both politically and in the media. (“The After-Life of Documentary” 66) Ginsburg notes the particular synchronicity of both You Are on Indian Land and the founding of the Indian Film Unit: “It is significant that the timing of the film coincided with the first wave of the modern movement for Aboriginal political rights in Canada and clearly helped to make those efforts visible” (66). This was as true in Australia, New Zealand, and the United States, where Indigenous political activism was marked by governmental and populist resistance but also by specific gains, primarily in the areas of citizenship and the right to vote.8 In the political turmoil of the 1960s, issues of representation came to the forefront everywhere. Victor Masayesva Jr., the Hopi photographer and videographer, notes that “the turmoil of Indian activism in the late sixties and early seventies played a major part in exposing Native American peoples to the role of the media and how it could be used to advantage . . . ‘By-for-and-about’ became the criteria by which everything about Indians was to be judged” (qtd. in Younger, 36). The 1960s and 1970s were a time of Indigenous protest movements around the globe—for example, the founding of the American Indian Movement (AIM), the battle with the US government at Wounded Knee, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra, and Sámi protests against the planned dam at Alta-Kautokeino. That this period still resonates for Indigenous communities in North America can be seen in recent documentaries like Trudell (USA, 2005) and A Good Day to Die (USA, 2010), about, respectively, AIM activists John Trudell and Dennis Banks, and like Oaivveskaldjut (Give Us Our Skeletons) (Norway, 1999), which tells stories interwoven through Alta dam protester Nils Somby’s relationship to the leaders of the nineteenth-century Kautokeino rebellion. In Canada,

Author Wendy Gay Pearson Isbn 9781554583355 File size 5.4MB Year 2014 Pages 392 Language English File format PDF Category Cinema Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare From the dawn of cinema, images of Indigenous peoples have been dominated by Hollywood stereotypes and often negative depictions from elsewhere around the world. With the advent of digital technologies, however, many Indigenous peoples are working to redress the imbalance in numbers and counter the negativity. The contributors to Reverse Shots offer a unique scholarly perspective on current work in the world of Indigenous film and media. Chapters focus primarily on Canada, Australia, and New Zealand and cover areas as diverse as the use of digital technology in the creation of Aboriginal art, the healing effects of Native humour in First Nations documentaries, and the representation of the pre-colonial in films from Australia, Canada, and Norway.     Download (5.4MB) Creative Documentary: Theory and Practice The Cinema of Oliver Stone : Art, Authorship and Activism American Documentary Filmmaking In The Digital Age Wag The Dog: A Study On Film And Reality In The Digital Age Film Quarterly: Forty Years A Selection Load more posts

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