The Decolonizing Lens is a Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) initiative to make Indigenous films accessible to the community and foster dialogue between viewers and filmmakers. The latest free screening held by the series on Nov. 24 was Cree-Métis director Danis Goulet’s Night Raiders.
This event was organized by the University of Manitoba’s Women and Gender Studies Margaret Laurence Endowment Fund and the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation in a direct partnership with the WAG.
Night Raiders is set in 2043 in a North America that has been divided in two. Children are taken from their families to become property of the State, leading to the desperation of a Cree mother named Niska. In the hopes of getting her daughter back, she joins an underground group of vigilantes to infiltrate the State children’s academy.
This feature film premiered at the Berlinale International Film Festival in March of this year. According to Goulet in an interview with Screen Rant, it serves as an allegory for the residential-school system and how its practices impact Indigenous peoples.
Kaila Johnston, the supervisor of education for the National Centre of Truth and Reconciliation, discussed how the event looked like through a hybrid model.
“It was very similar to what we did last year in one of our screenings in which we featured productions working with us. The live portion of the WAG was mainly introductions, and Danis Goulet joined us virtually for the panel discussion,” she says.
The film was played at the WAG-Qaumajuq, as well as through an online event platform that allowed audiences at home to be equally engaged in the experience as those attending in person. Viewers also got the chance to participate in the discussion panel that happened right after the screening, which was moderated by local filmmaker Sonya Ballantyne.
“Sonya met with Danis virtually, and they had a discussion for about 20 minutes amongst themselves and then opened things up for questions and answers,” Johnston says.
“The great thing about free films in the WAG is that audience members, who may not have had the opportunity in other instances, will get to see really great Indigenous films. Our audience has grown throughout the years since we started in 2016, and we have done over 30 events, 83 films and had over 85 special screenedover guests,” Johnston says.
For info on future installments of The Decolonizing Lens, keep an eye on wag.ca/events.
Published in Volume 76, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 25, 2021)