A Conversation with Indigenous Filmmakers Tracey Deer and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

21 • 06

The third episode of Telefilm Canada’s newest podcast, Maple Popcorn, features two Indigenous filmmakers whose films are making waves on the international film festival circuit – Tracey Deer, director of Beans, and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, star of Canada-New Zealand coproduction Night Raiders and director of Kímmapiiyipitssini – the Meaning of Empathy.

 

Maple Popcorn is Telefilm Canada’s six-episode podcast series featuring interviews and roundtable conversations with Canadian TV and film icons, exploring the cultural contributions made by the Canadian film industry. In the podcast’s third episode, for Canada’s National Indigenous History Month, television director and filmmaker Tracey Deer and actress and director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers bravely share their vulnerabilities, addressing both their careers and personal struggles they continue to experience as Indigenous women in Canada.

Tracey Deer was born and raised in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, Quebec. Her feature-length film, Beans, is semi-autobiographical – it explores the 1990 Oka Crisis through the eyes of a young Mohawk girl. Beans debuted at TIFF in 2020 and screened at festivals in Brazil, Mexico and the United States. As part of the Official Selection at the Berlinale 2021, it won the coveted Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the Generation Kplus competition. In March, FilmRise acquired the U.S rights to the film.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, Blackfoot Confederacy) as well as Sámi from Norway. She recently starred as Niska in Night Raiders, a sci-fi apocalyptic film that follows a Cree woman who joins a resistance movement. The Canadian-New Zealand coproduction was written and directed by Cree/Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet, and lists Taika Waititi as one of its executive producers. After making its rounds at SXSW and Cannes in 2020, and Berlinale 2021, Night Raiders was acquired by Samuel Goldwyn Films. The film will next be screened at the Sydney Film Festival. Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ latest documentary, Kímmapiiyipitssini – the Meaning of Empathy, was recently featured at Hot Docs International Film Festival (the largest documentary festival in North America), where it won the Rogers Audience award.

You can listen to the Maple Popcorn podcast on both Apple Podcasts and Spotify!

Trigger warning: this episode was recorded just a few days after the tragic discovery of a mass grave containing children’s remains at the site of a former Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia.

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