REEL CANADA festivals come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes we take over an entire high school for a whole day and show six films to 1,000 kids in three different venues, sometimes it’s just a few classes in the auditorium on a given afternoon.
REEL CANADA snuck quietly into Manitoba for the first time yesterday, with a pocket-sized event in the town of Stonewall, about 45 minutes outside of Winnipeg. At the request of teacher Cathy Redman-Chalmers, and with the help of our new Manitoba coordinator Terri Cherniack, we arranged for a local filmmaker to come and speak to her media class about filmmaking.
Filmmaker Janelle Wookey and her grandmother
The director was the incredibly charming Janelle Wookey who brought her documentary MÉMÉRE MÉTISSE. The film chronicles her playful but determined efforts to persuade her grandmother to acknowledge and embrace their Metis ancestry. With its combination of sincerity, simplicity and do-it-yourself inventiveness, it was a perfect film to show a class of young aspirants to the film industry. As an added treat, Janelle actually brought along Memere, her beloved grandmother!
Janelle was impressed with the number and quality of the questions: Why did she choose her grandmother as a subject? How did she get started as a filmmaker? What has happened with the film since its premier? How did the film change her and how did it change her grandmother? As an added surprise, there was a CBC crew on hand making a film about Janelle! They were drawn into the encounter when the students started asking them questions as well.
One screening, one classroom, one dynamic interaction with some young Canadian storytellers. The REEL CANADA First National Tour marches on.