REEL CANADA made its first-ever stop to Saskatchewan on Monday, May 7th. Students from six different high schools in the Saskatoon Public School Board joined us at The Broadway Theatre in downtown Saskatoon for screenings in the morning and afternoon.
The morning saw an audience of 250 students viewing Neil Diamond’s 2009 documentary REEL INJUN. Prior to the feature, the students were treated to a screening of Melanie Jackson’s short animation DANCERS OF THE GRASS. A Saskatoon filmmaker herself, Melanie was in attendance to speak to the audience about her film, her work on WAPOS BAY and about filmmaking in Saskatchewan and in Canada at large. After the screening, REEL CANADA’s production coordinator and facilitator, Ravi Srinivasan, led a great discussion about Hollywood’s portrayal of Native peoples, and other issues illuminated in REEL INJUN.
Saskatchewan filmmaker Melanie Jackson
Following lunch, we screened Andrew Currie’s 2006 film FIDO, a REEL CANADA fan-favourite. A crowd of 150 enjoyed the zombie comedy and had the opportunity to speak to Currie after the film via Skype. Students lined up to ask questions about anything from art direction to film financing, as well as asking about the film’s inspiration. The students made surprising connections between FIDO and REEL INJUN, raising parallels between the treatment of zombies in Currie’s film and the treatment of First Nations characters in Diamond’s.
We were thrilled by the enthusiasm of the students and teachers and the warm hospitality extended to us by everyone we met. A big thank you goes out to the staff at The Broadway Theatre and to our lead organizing teacher, Joel Dietrich. We had a wonderful day and look forward to returning to Saskatoon next year for round two!