New Fire

Filming your family's past

When filmmaker Elle-Maija Tailfeathers talks about her parents' relationship, she starts at the beginning, as you often do with love stories.
Elle-Maija Tailfeathers is a Blackfoot and Sami filmmaker living in Vancouver, BC.

When filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers talks about her parents' relationship, she starts at the beginning, as you often do with love stories.

"My parents have this sort of mythical love story," is how she describes it.

A Sámi man from Norway meets a Blackfoot woman in Australia where they're both attending a global indigenous peoples' conference. The first thing he says to her is, "you're going to be my wife."

Time passes, and eventually he gets his wish.  

"Their love story is obviously pretty amazing and it kind of was my compass for love for a good chunk of my life," Máijá said.

And then it became a film that took up a good chunk of her life.

A couple years ago, Máijá was invited to take part in the Embargo Collective II, which tasked a group of female filmmakers with creating a series of shorts for imagineNATIVE's 15th anniversary.

Máijá was challenged to make a film about her family - along the same lines as Lisa Jackson's Suckerfish.

It turned out to be a most challenging year - as she steeped in family history and started to see it in a new light.

"How did we come to this dark place?" she asks in the opening narration.

Máijá's film Bihttoš has been received with high praise. It first screened at the imagineNATIVE festival in 2014, and in 2015 it was selected as one of Canada's top ten short films by TIFF.

Click the 'listen' button above to hear Máijá's story.

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