Advertisement

Indigenous Canadian Cinemas: Negotiating the Precarious

  • Christopher E. Gittings
Chapter
Part of the Global Cinema book series (GLOBALCINE)

Abstract

Part of what is at stake in the struggle to represent Canada cinematically is representing the First Nations, people whose subjectivities and very lives have been rendered precarious through the violent colonialism of the Indian Act and the attendant racializing discourse of white invader-settler cinema. If the Canadian industry as a whole might be read through the vector of the precarious, certainly Indigenous cinemas remain, despite the international festival successes of Mohawk director Alanis Obomsawin and Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk, challenging to fund and distribute. After elucidating the industrial precariousness of Canadian cinemas in general, the paper focuses on Indigenous people’s cinematic production. Informed by Judith Butler’s understanding of the precarious life of the Other (Butler 2003), as the concept emerges from Emanuel Levinas’s ethics, the chapter offers a case study of a recent and rare First Nations’ fiction feature, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Jeff Barnaby 2013). Barnaby’s horror cum revenge drama is a decolonizing film re-presenting the psychic and physical violence visited upon the Mi’gmaq through the colonialism of the Residential School System, a nationwide education program for First Nations children that came on line in the 1880s to “kill the Indian in the child.” All too frequently, as Barnaby’s film witnesses, it killed the child.

Works Cited

  1. Abley, Mark. Conversations with a Dead Man: The Legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott. Madeira Park, BC: Douglas & McIntyre, 2013.Google Scholar
  2. Alfred, Taiaiake. Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  3. Bhabha, Homi. “The Other Question…” Screen 24, no. 6 (1983): 18–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brant Castellano, Marlene, Linda Archibald, and Mike DeGagné, eds. Introduction to From Truth to Reconciliation. Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools, 1–8. Ottawa: Aboriginal Healing Foundation Research Series, 2008. Google Scholar
  5. Butler, Judith. Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence. London and New York: Verso, 2004.Google Scholar
  6. Butler, Judith. Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? London and New York: Verso, 2009.Google Scholar
  7. Cardinal, Gil. “The Aboriginal Voice: The National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking Through the Years.” National Film Board of Canada. Accessed December 10, 2016. https://www.nfb.ca/playlists/gil-cardinal/aboriginal-voice-national-film-board-/.
  8. Churchill, Ward. Fantasies of the Master Race: Literature, Cinema and the Colonization of American Indians. Monroe, ME: Common Courage Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  9. Dorland, Michael. So Close to the State(s). The Emergence of Canadian Feature Film Policy. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998.Google Scholar
  10. Emberley, Julia. The Testimonial Uncanny. Indigenous Storytelling, Knowledge and Reparative Practices. Albany: State University of New York, 2014.Google Scholar
  11. Gittings, Christopher. Canadian National Cinema: Ideology, Difference and Representation. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.Google Scholar
  12. Gittings, Christopher. “Canadian Cinema(s).” In Remapping World Cinema: Regional Tensions and Global Transformations, edited by Rob Stone, Paul Cooke, Stephanie Dennison, Jonathan Driskell, and Alex Marlow-Mann. London and New York: Routledge, 2017.Google Scholar
  13. ImagineNative, Ontario Media Development Corporation, and Telefilm Canada. “Indigenous Feature Film Production in Canada: A National and International Perspective,” 2013. Accessed December 1, 2016. http://www.omdc.on.ca/Assets/Research/Research+Reports/Indigenous+Feature+Film/Indigenous+Feature+Film+Production+in+Canada.pdf.
  14. Jessup, Lynda. “Tin Cans and Machinery.” Visual Anthropology 12, no. 1 (2009): 49–86.Google Scholar
  15. Obomsawin, Alanis. “Unpublished Interview with the author,” 2010.Google Scholar
  16. Vizenor, Gerald. Survivance: Narratives of Native Presence. Lincoln and London: Nebraska University Press, 2008.Google Scholar
  17. Wells, Paul. The Horror Genre. London and New York: Wallflower Press, 2000.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher E. Gittings
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

Personalised recommendations