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Weengushk film festival celebrates youth accomplishments

Event is dedicated to providing a safe space for youth to learn about their culture, land, language and to find their voice and share their experiences through storytelling
Dr. Shirley Cheechoo
Shirley Cheechoo, artistic director of the Weengushk Film Festival.

The sixth annual Weengushk International Film Festival is celebrating youth, their experiences, journeys and accomplishments. 

The event is a not for profit, Indigenous-run independent film festival and cultural event, featuring award winning and burgeoning filmmakers and Indigenous leaders in 57 films, five workshops, four musical performances, opening night, and a gala awards event.

The three day festival July 14 to 16 on Manitoulin Island includes Indigenous and diverse dramatic and documentary shorts and features from Brazil, New Zealand, U.S., Malaysia, The Netherlands, French Polynsia and Canada.

"There are very few Indigenous film festivals in the world. WIFF was created for our films and programs to play a very important role in shaping the public's patterns of how they view Indigenous people. WIFF brings cinema to the communities and opens our people to see and hear other indigenous voices from Canada and around the world," said artistic director Shirley Cheechoo.

The festival events following this year's theme, including a 12-hour youth filmmaking program sponsored by the Canadian Media Producers Association, are inspired by Cheechoo’s life's work, dedicated to providing a safe space for youth to learn about their culture, land, language and to find their voice and share their experiences through storytelling, according to a news release.

Film highlights from WIFF include opening night films Bones of Crows by Marie Clements preceded by Shirley Cheechoo's 1997 Sundance festival premiere and award-winning film, Silent Tears; special presentations of Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On by Madison Thomas; Rosie by Gail Maurice; documentary feature The Beautiful Scars of Tom Wilson, by Shane Belcourt; and short films Rose by Rozann Whitebean and Michelle Derosier’s animated short, A Boy and His Loss and the stunning short documentary film from New Zealand, Mawhialeo Ote Alowaha, by Valeriya Golovina Other special screenings include an episode of Jennifer Podemski’s acclaimed series Little Bird, and the world premiere of Vertebrae by Travis Shilling, starring Gary Farmer and Allison Sawyer.

Musical performances at WIFF will feature Juno Award winner Murray Porter, seven-time Native American Music Award winner Keith Secola, internationally acclaimed flamenco guitar family Quarantined Quartet, and the all-star blues band Gary Farmer and The Troublemaker All Stars featuring Derek Miller. WIFF will also include a culture and music exchange with visiting artists Quarantined Quartet woven throughout the festival programming. The Quarantined Quartet has appeared on The Kelly Clarkson Show, Good Morning America, NBC News, ABC, CBS, SGN and performed at Lincoln Center.

The full program is available here. Tickets and passes are here.


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