Curator: Vince HaAssistant Curator: Lindsay Muir
KCFF, in partnership with the Kingston School of Art, is proud to present Where the Willow Meets the Moon: People and Voices in the Work of Alanis Obomsawin, recognizing the master filmmaker as one of Canada’s most important artists. Nine posters of Alanis Obomsawin’s documentaries will be exhibited at the Kingston School of Art & Window Art Gallery (KSOA) from March 3rd to 12th, 2022, and will provide a launching point into the filmmaker’s approach regarding resistance and collective voices. Obomsawin is a member of the Abenaki Nation and has directed more than fifty-two films, and counting, over fifty-three years, including several documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada focusing on Indigenous rights.
Photos: Ulrike Bender
When the Kingston Canadian Film Festival received nine posters of Alanis Obomsawin’s documentaries from the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), the curatorial team was given a chance to engage with her work, highlighting the filmmaker’s approach regarding resistance, collective voices, and hope. Here, we scanned the nine posters, used them as raw material, and weaved them into a collage, harking back to Obomsawin’s 1975 Basket and 2012 The People of the Kattawapiskak River, while metaphorically speaking to her work as a site for nourishment, replenishment, and learning. As settlers, the curatorial team comes to Obomsawin’s work as a location to receive pedagogical tools, to further our own understanding of resiliency. We would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that there are many Indigenous nations, communities, ways of existing, and ways of responding to the world; we hope that we have resisted the dangers of generalizing the experiences and voices presented in this exhibition. More importantly, our aim is to offer an entryway to the master filmmaker’s generous body of work and put forth a question: How can we all learn from Alanis Obomsawin and the people in her work to build a better, kinder world?
We are thankful for the resources given; however, given the limited amount of time between conception and exhibition, we were not able to achieve everything that we had desired. It would have been important for us to translate the exhibition into multiple languages. Furthermore, we would have liked to engage the community, especially children and students. For most of her career, Alanis Obomsawin has been a champion for hope through education, believing that change can happen with new generations.
Alanis Obomsawin (b. 1932) is an activist, artist, educator, filmmaker, and singer. She was born on the Abénaki Territory in New Hampshire, United States and was raised in Québec, Canada. Obomsawin’s childhood in Québec served as the inspiration, as well as the setting for many of her most renowned documentary films. She has directed more than fifty-two films, and counting, over fifty-three years, including several documentaries for the NFB focusing on Indigenous rights. We leave you with an excerpt from one of Obomsawin’s rare instances of fictional filmmaking, still very much inspired by personal experience: “No one can take away what is in our hearts, our spirit and our dreams.” We hope that whatever struggles you are going through, you can also find hope and conviction in this passage.
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