Funds can be the most significant stepping stone for a filmmaker’s career, so awards are highly sought after. There are several awards and funds available for filmmakers in Winnipeg, and the winner of the Mosaic award from Winnipeg Film Group was just announced.
“The Mosaic Film Fund is an award open specifically to women/non-binary-identified people to support those who come from an Indigenous or diverse cultural background to create their first short film,” Karen Remoto, production department and training coordinator for the Winnipeg Film Group, says.
The award covers a host of supports for blossoming filmmakers, including living expenses, mentorship, services from Winnipeg Film Group, accessibility supports and a screening of their short film at Cinematheque.
Remoto had the opportunity to be on this year’s selection committee alongside filmmakers Chanelle Lajoie, Kristin Snowbird and Erin Hembrador.
The committee “judges an applicant’s artistic vision, script, production-schedule plan, budget and other materials filmmakers have given us,” Remoto says.
This year, the award was given to Fawnda Neckoway, a member of Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and an alum of the Academy of Acting and the National Screen Institute’s New Voices Program.
The award will help fund Neckoway’s project Language Keepers, which will focus on two people as they learn the basics of their Indigenous language.
“The award is a great start. I’m really looking forward to the mentorship aspect of it as experience, and guidance is just as valuable,” Neckoway says. “There will be portions allocated for production costs and equipment, so overall it’s going to help a lot and provide a good stepping stone.”
Remoto says the fund acts as a starting point for emerging filmmakers to transition into more established filmmakers.
“It helps them gain footing in how to create a film from pre-production to post-production and hopefully encourages them to connect with other filmmakers they could work with in the future,” Remoto says.
Neckoway says she’s excited about the project, which she believes will resonate with local audiences.
“I’ve noticed over the past while (that) other Indigenous people in my generation have expressed interest in also wanting to learn our languages, and I’ve found that encouraging. People (are) taking their own initiatives to educate themselves and connect, noticing workshops available through organizations or groups coming together to learn,” Neckoway says.
“Maybe this can help others who also want to learn and keep their language active.”
Remoto is looking forward to seeing the end product of Language Keepers after hearing about the project.
“Language is such an important influence in how you connect to your culture and how you interact with those around you. Not being tied to your original language at an early age can displace you from an identity others have comfortably inherited,” Remoto says.
Published in Volume 76, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 27, 2022)