Building on the tradition of sharing knowledge and telling stories, the Biindigaate Indigenous Film Festival is a celebration of Indigenous films and filmmakers located in the heart of the traditional territory of the Anishinabek (Ojibway) in the city of Thunder Bay.

The 5th annual festival takes to the screen September 27-29. “We are very proud of this year’s lineup of films and events,” said Lenny Carpenter, festival director. “We have something for everyone. From a contemporary and traditional art exhibit to a top class musical showcase but the quality and diversity of our films this year will bring it all together.”

There are over 30 films in this year’s lineup from hard-hitting documentaries, to feature films to shorts and experimentals. One of the highlight films this year is the opening night film, Hi-Ho Mistahey, which just premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). The film chronicles Shannen’s Dream and First Nations youth’s push for equality in education in First Nation communities, particularly Attawapiskat. We are proud to announce that Alanis Obomsawin, the legendary director of this film and Canadian film icon will be in attendance after the film to conduct a Q & A.

The Biindigaate art exhibit opens Friday evening after the film in partnership with Definitely Superior Art Gallery. The exhibit will feature live music, an art exhibit and artist talk by rising art star Lisa Myers. The gallery will also be filled with art curated by Louise Thomas, owner of the Ahnisnabae Art Gallery. The exhibit will remain open for the next two weeks.

Our second day of festival opens with a documentary, Water Journey, about Thunder Bay resident Josephine Mandamin. In 2011, Josephine embarked on an ambitious walk: to collect four pails of water from Hudson Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean, ending at the Great Lakes. The goal was to raise awareness about water’s fragile existence. Josephine will be in attendance to discuss her experience following the film on Saturday at 11am.

The courageous and uplifting film Ordinary Woman, Extraordinary Dreams follows the challenges faced by Maggie Sophea and her family as they adjust to Maggie’s spinal cord injury and finally return to the isolated First Nations community of Summer Beaver where Maggie sustained her injury. This will be screened at the Prince Arthur Hotel at 1 pm.

Another filmmaker in attendance is Jules Koostachin who is originally from the James Bay region will present her film Remembering Inninimowin, where she explores her Cree culture and in particular the language. Visiting directors Candace Maracle and Judith Schulyer will also be in attendance along with various other filmmakers, producers and performers.

The critically acclaimed The Lesser Blessed, one of the largest and most widely distributed aboriginal films will close Saturday. An edgy coming-of-age drama centered on a First Nations teenager trying to find his place in the modern world, stars Kiowa Gordon, Tamara Podemski and Benjamin Bratt.

The Saturday Night Music event at the Prince Arthur Hotel will prove to be an exciting time as well with blues guitarist Arthur Renwick from Toronto and jazzy alter-folk music from the beautiful and talented Binaeshee-Quae. The night will feature some special guests on the stage as well and music videos on the big screen.

“Our small hard-working committee is very excited about this year’s lineup of films and events we have planned,” Carpenter said. “We are growing as a festival and truly community-based and I know there are only good things to come in the future.”

Founded as a collective and held in the traditional territory of the Anishinabek in Thunder Bay, Biindigaate is the only Indigenous film festival between Winnipeg and Toronto. Since 2009, the Biindigaate Indigenous Film Festival has shown over 120 films and welcomed collaboration and participation in art shows, music, discussion and other celebrations of First Nations, Metis and Inuit identity.