NWT’s 4th Annual Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ Film Festival is a showcase for Indigenous and Northern films

On the set of Okpik: Little Village in the Arctic, one of the films screening at this week's Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Fort Simpson Film Festival, NWT Caroline Cox is behind the camera, filming Kylik Kisoun and Elsie Ovilok.  (Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh - photo credit)

On the set of Okpik: Little Village in the Arctic, one of the films screening at this week’s Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Fort Simpson Film Festival, NWT Caroline Cox is behind the camera, filming Kylik Kisoun and Elsie Ovilok. (Submitted by Kelly Kamo McHugh – photo credit)

Grab some popcorn, the 4th Annual Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ Film Festival is taking place this week in Fort Simpson, NWT

The film festival features local and international indigenous and Nordic films. It began Wednesday and will last through Sunday at the Fort Simpson Recreation Center.

Jon Antoine is a Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation filmmaker and also the organizer of the event. He said he wants people to come out and enjoy the films but also hopes it’s an inspiring experience for viewers.

Antoine said the film festival is a great opportunity to showcase northern talent. He said there’s a great film community in the Northwest Territories and he’s proud to be a part of it.

“Anyone can make a film,” said Antoine. “You can tell your own stories and make your own films. And if you need help, I can help.”

Facebook/Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation

Facebook/Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ First Nation

One film he’s proud to have acquired for the festival is Lakota Nation vs. United States, which tells the story of the Lakota Nation’s struggle to regain control of the Black Hills that are home to Mount Rushmore.

“It was probably one of the best documentaries I’ve seen going to the LA Skins Film Festival,” said Antoine.

The Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ Film Festival is also collaborating with the Paddling Film Festival, which screened six paddling-themed short films on Wednesday.

Antoine said Friday was the red carpet event with free food and photo opportunities. The festival shows a preview of Antoine’s film Dene in the countryand audiences have an opportunity to provide feedback on the film and help shape the narrative.

There is a performance on Friday Polarisa film by Kirsten Carthew and a music video for Amy and the Easy Hundo’s Dirty discord. The music video was directed by Dustin Dewar of Fort Simpson, NWT and won second place in Western Arctic Moving Pictures’ 48-hour video competition.

The program on Saturday includes the short films at 1 p.m., followed by Always deadly at 3 p.m. and Don’t say his name at 5 p.m. On Sunday, the last day of the festival, spectators can watch Fallen Angel at 1 p.m. a second screening of Polaris at 3 p.m. and Forward slash/Back at 5 p.m.

Tickets for each film are $10.

Indigenous Stories by Indigenous Storytellers

Kylik Kisoun is an Inuit/Gwich’in hunter, gatherer and filmmaker. his movie Okpik: Small village in the arcticwhich he co-directed with Tiffany Ayalik, will be screened at the festival on Friday.

The film received an honorable mention in the Best Documentary Short category at last year’s Northwest Territories Professional Media Association Film & Media Awards.

The film follows Kisoun and his daughter as he discovers the lost art of building traditional Inuvialuit sod houses in Inuvik, NWT. Time.

“It shows a different way of life,” Kisoun said. “The current system we are in right now does not allow us to fully experience the human experience. Spending time with our family, making art and being connected to our environment.”

NWTPMA/Hannah Eden Photography

NWTPMA/Hannah Eden Photography

He also hopes that more indigenous people will be inspired to create art, particularly films.

“It’s important that our stories are told by our people,” Kisoun said. “We have an opportunity to move from subject matter to storytelling.

He encourages people to look to their communities for inspiration and to reach out to other Northern storytellers for help.

“Everyone has to look into their backyard and think, ‘Just because I grew up here doesn’t make me think it’s that interesting – but the rest of the world does. And our stories are worth telling.’”

“Film festivals can be a great inspiration”

Caroline Cox is a Northwest Territories-based filmmaker and producer and cinematographer okpik. She said working on the film was a very unique experience.

“As a cameraman, I spent weeks at a time in a tent north of Inuvik in a bush camp. We ate locally harvested food and everyone helped out at the camp,” she said.

Cox has a shack in the Dehcho region where she lives off the grid, so she has been spending a lot of time in the area. She said it’s exciting to see how much the Łı́ı́dlı̨ı̨ Kų́ę́ Film Festival has grown over the past four years.

“It’s exciting to know that people in the community will be seeing our film, but also some of the other films from the North, which I think they’re going to really enjoy,” said Cox.

She also expressed her hope that the films will inspire more northerners to get involved in filmmaking. She said making films in the north is really exciting because there are so many beautiful landscapes and interesting people.

“Film festivals can be a great inspiration for aspiring filmmakers, [they] help strengthen the arts community and create opportunities for networking,” she said.


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