Alanis Obomsawin’s new NFB documentary to screen at TIFF 2013 World premiere of Hi-Ho Mistahey! this September
July 30, 2013
Toronto, July 30, 2013 – The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) continues its longstanding dedication to Aboriginal storytelling with the world premiere of Alanis Obomsawin’s latest documentary, Hi-Ho Mistahey!, at the prestigious 2013 Toronto International Film Festival (September 5–15). Canada’s pre-eminent Aboriginal filmmaker, Obomsawin once again turns her lens on the Attawapiskat First Nation, whose housing crisis was the focus of her acclaimed 2012 documentary The People of the Kattawapiskak River. With Hi-Ho Mistahey!, Obomsawin unflinchingly examines the impact of the lack of resources on the community’s educational system and the inspiring youth-driven fight for the rights of First Nations children. The film was produced by Alanis Obomsawin and executive produced by the NFB’s Ravida Din and Annette Clarke.
About the film
In 2008, 14-year-old Shannen Koostachin, a student from the Cree community of Attawapiskat, launched a campaign to build a suitable school for the children of her village. When her first attempt to get funding failed, she reached out to children across Canada, who started to join her fight in the hundreds. Two years later, tragedy struck when Shannen was killed in a car accident. The community was in shock—but they were determined that Shannen’s fight would continue. Following in Shannen’s footsteps, a group of young leaders who are both inspired and inspiring raised awareness about their conditions of education among Canadian youth, and fought for their rights, flying to Geneva to deliver their message to a UN committee. Shannen’s campaign for a new school in Attawapiskat became a national movement, bringing people from all walks of life together to make Shannen’s Dream—the dream of fairness in education for First Nations children, in schools that are safe and welcoming—a reality.
Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary Hi-Ho Mistahey! portrays a community seeking justice and fair treatment. The director brings together the voices of those who have continued to take the Shannen’s Dream campaign to schools from town to town—across Canada and all the way to the United Nations in Geneva, in a larger-than-life adventure.
In February 2012, a motion on education for First Nations children giving them equal rights passed unanimously in the House of Commons. The voice of the children had been heard, and construction of a new school in Attawapiskat could finally begin. Shannen’s dream became a reality, but across Canada, many other communities still don’t have safe and welcoming schools. How long will it take for their dream to come true?
About the filmmaker
A member of the Abenaki First Nation, Alanis Obomsawin is one of Canada’s most important documentary filmmakers, ceaselessly showing the importance of her roots and the significance of intergenerational links in preserving North American Aboriginal cultures. Obomsawin launched her career as a professional singer in New York in 1960. In 1967, NFB producers Joe Koenig and Bob Verrall invited her to come to the Film Board as a consultant for a film about Aboriginal people. She wound up getting behind the camera herself, while continuing to sing for humanitarian causes, and going on to become a multidisciplinary artist. An activist filmmaker, she has directed 40 films with the NFB, focussing on the lives and concerns of First Nations. Her work—in particular her feature documentary Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993), about the 1990 Mohawk uprising at Kanehsatake and Oka—has helped the voice of Aboriginal people in Canada be heard and garnered numerous international awards. Other notable films include Christmas at Moose Factory (1971), Incident at Restigouche (1984), Richard Cardinal: Cry from the Diary of a Métis Child (1986) and Is the Crown at War with Us? (2002). Alanis Obomsawin was named to the Canadian Film and Television Hall of Fame in 2010.
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) creates groundbreaking interactive works, social-issue documentaries and auteur animation. The NFB has produced over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 4 Canadian Screen Awards, 7 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.
Jennifer Mair, NFB Publicist
Lily Robert,Director,Corporate Communications,NFB