At the Canadian Screen Awards last Sunday, Shannon Masters took home the coveted award for Original Screenplay for Empire of Dirt (it was also nominated for Best Motion Picture). Now the film, a follow-up to Peter Stebbings's directorial debut Defendor, is out on demand with major cable providers and Air Canada, and is available for rent and purchase on iTunes.
Empire of Dirt tells the story of three different generations of Cree women struggling with addiction, poverty and teen pregnancy. It's the kind of story that's not often told on the big screen.
"In writing a script that centres on native women, Masters brings a fresh eye to film storytelling, weaving elements of the damaging legacy of the residential school system into her characters’ personalities," Linda Barnard wrote in the Toronto Star.
Jennifer Podemski, who produced the film, also stars as Minnie, a grandmother who takes in her 27-year-old daughter Lena (Cara Gee) and her troubled teenage daughter Peeka (Shay Eyre) in her northern Ontairo home. A couple of years ago, Podemski told us about her Defining Moment, which took place on the set of a movie whose producer wasn't quite sure how to handle a native performer: