Top 10 indigenous films of all time
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival kicks off today, celebrating the best of indigenous cinema
When agreeing to this assignment I understood that the making of such a list would necessitate leaving films and perhaps more importantly, filmmakers, that I love off the list, but knowing that has not made it easier.
Here are 10 (technically 11, but whatever) amazing films that are a great starting point for a journey into indigenous cinema history, but it is, of course far from complete.
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Indigenous cinema, at least in its contemporary form, is only 40 years old, and the fact that there are films to be left off a list like this is testament to its rapid development and to the artists who have taken up the camera to tell our stories.
1. Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (Canada)
These two activist documentaries were often paired on the festival circuit and are among the most important films in contemporary indigenous cinema. Directors Merata Mita and Alanis Obomsawin seemingly willed indigenous cinema into life with these two endlessly fascinating historical documents.
4. The Dead Lands (New Zealand)
5. Four Sheets to the Wind (U.S)
6. Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (Canada)
7. Once Were Warriors (New Zealand)
8. Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Canada)
Jeff Barnaby’s debut feature brings the anger to indigenous cinema, a clarion call for both the cinematic community and the indigenous community. A director to watch for years to come.
9. Samson and Delilah (Australia)
10. Smoke Signals (U.S)
So while I believe these films are all amazing, there are more not listed here — Ten Canoes, Charlie’s Country, Patu!, Barking Water, Trudell, Before Tomorrow, Mohawk Girls — and more every year, in large part thanks to the festivals like ImagineNative.
This article was initially published in Muskrat Magazine. It was edited and republished with permission.