DER Documentary

Being Innu

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By Catherine Mullins
color, 53 min/76 min, 2007

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For thousands of years the Innu lived off the land. They were nomads, sometimes also known as the Montagnais. In the 1960s, government policy forced them to settle and form communities in Labrador and Quebec. Ancestral ways collided with modern ones, and gave rise to ongoing struggles. Now the grandchildren tell their own story.

Being Innu takes an unvarnished look at life in the village of Sheshatshiu, Labrador. Six savvy, gutsy young people talk to Montreal filmmaker Catherine Mullins about addiction, suicide, lack of jobs, hopelessness. They will grab your heart with their stories: "I first thought about suicide when I was 7," says April, 16. They will make you laugh with their wry humour: "What do you do when you live in a shoe?" Jimmy, 25.

Interviews with Elders, grandparents and teachers round out this portrait of a community in crisis - sadly a situation not unlike that of many other aboriginal nations.

What is remarkable about Innu youth is their love of the land and of their native language. For them, being Innu means finding a balance between the traditional ways of the past and today's reality.

Produced by Green Lion Productions in association with Société Radio-Canada, RDI, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, CBC, SCN; with the financial participation of the Quebec Film and Television Tax Credit, SODEC, Rogers Documentary Fund, Canadian Television Fund, Canadian Heritage, Star Choice Communications Inc., Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit; with development assistance from the National Film Board of Canada - Unité ACIC.

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
World premiere - Montreal International Film Festival, 2007
St. John's International Women's Film Festival, Newfoundland, 2007
American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, 2007
Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival, Germany, 2008
Wisconsin Film Festival, 2008
American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, CA, 2007
ViewFinders — International Film Festival for Youth, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2008
Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival, Ithaca, NY, 2008
Athens International Film & Video Festival, Ohio, 2008
American Psychological Association Convention, Boston, 2008
Society for Visual Anthropology/American Anthropological Association Conference, San Francisco, 2008
Festival of Visual Culture, Finland, 2008
Miradas-Doc International Film Festival, Spain, 2008

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Supported By Massachusetts Cultural Council National Endowment for the Humanities National Endowment for the Arts