Windsor, ON / Detroit, MI — Media City Film Festival (MCFF), Windsor-Detroit’s internationally acclaimed festival for film and digital art, announces ThousandSuns Cinema: Indigenous Edition, streaming online January 9–30, 2023

Focused exclusively on Indigenous filmmakers, MCFF presents over 60 films made by some of cinema’s most remarkable voices, available to view for free in full open access globally for the duration of this wonderful virtual event: mediacityfilmfestival.com 

MCFF’s ThousandSuns Cinema: Indigenous Edition provides local, national, and global audiences with unfettered access to new works, world premieres, restorations, and rarely exhibited historical masterpieces by 2022 Pulitzer Prize, Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement, and MacArthur “Genius Grant” award-winning artists, among many others. Alanis Obomsawin, Raven Chacon, Fox Maxy, Miguel Hilari, Cecilia Vicuña, Anastasia Lapsui, Sky Hopinka, Caroline Monnet, Shelley Niro, Svetlana Romanova, Solomonie Pootoogook, Rhayne Vermette, Mosha Michael, Adam Piron, New Red Order, and dozens more are represented, offering a rare chance to experience such a large survey of vital Indigenous cinema, free of charge. 

Featuring more than 60 feature-length and short films from Turtle Island and around the world––including Nunavut and the Republic of Sakha––this special series is co-selected and presented with COUSIN, an artist-run collective supporting Indigenous makers expanding the form of film. 

Recent MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient and COUSIN co-founder Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) returns to MCFF with a selection of five short films, along with his MCFF Chrysalis Fellowship-supported feature maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020). Beatrice Loayza of The New York Times describes maɬni as “an essential portrait of contemporary Indigenous life. It refreshingly centres the Native perspective, and beckons audiences onto its wavelength by tapping into something more intuitive, the stuff of dreams.”

It Starts with a Whisper (1993) by Governor General award-winner Shelley Niro (Mohawk) is an undersung and rarely-screened masterpiece, filmed with an all-Indigenous cast on the Six Nations of the Grand River, representing the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Seneca, and Tuscarora nations. The film blends traditional Indigenous imagery, music, and themes with motifs from contemporary secular life. 

2022 Pulitzer Prize recipient Raven Chacon (Diné) and long-time collaborator Cristóbal Martínez (Mestizo) are also featured with A Song Often Played on the Radio (2019), a work that unites the two artists’ sensibilities across sound, moving image, and performance. The film follows two mysterious characters (El Cantor and La Canante), searching for the mythical Cities of Cibola in the Rio Grande Valley, whose identities begin to unravel until they realize the truth about what brought them to this land. 

The mother of Indigenous cinema, Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki) is a globally acclaimed international treasure. At the age of ninety she has more than 50 films to her credit. Christmas at Moose Factory (1971) precedes two of her most important works about the Oka Crisis, a 78-day stand-off between Mohawk protestors, the Quebec police, RCMP, and the Canadian Army. My Name is Kahentiiosta (1995) and Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993) screen as part of the series. The latter won Best Canadian Feature Film at TIFF.  

Anastasia Lapsui (Nenets) and Markku Lehmuskallio, the widely-hailed filmmaking duo and recipients of multiple Jussi Awards (Finland’s premier film industry prize), participate with the virtual world premiere of their 35mm masterpiece Nedarma (2007). 

Presented in partnership with the Finnish Film Foundation, the film is set in Russia’s Extreme North, and invokes Nenets cosmology as a way of leading into a filmic structure that portrays the arc of life from birth to death. 

Svetlana Romanova (Sakha/Even) uses digital video to craft unconventional explorations of landscape, culture, and people in northern Siberia. Two films by the young artist are screening including Managa Bar/Rustam’s Habitat (2017), which brilliantly portrays contemporary youth culture in Yakutsk, the capital city of the Republic of Sakha and the coldest city in the world.

2020 Governor General Award recipient Dana Claxton (Hunkpapa Lakota) is an artist, filmmaker, and descendant of the original band of Hunkpapa Lakota led by Sitting Bull, who sought safe passage into Canada after defeating General Custer and his Seventh Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I Want to Know Why (1994) uses video to investigate the women in her family who succumbed prematurely to the external forces of racism and poverty. The Red Paper (1996) consciously opts for a lack of historical specificity in creating a hauntological scenario of settler-colonial violence and the psychological damage it causes its perpetrators. 

Rhayne Vermette (Métis) has received international praise for her recent feature Ste. Anne (2021), winner of the Amplify Voices Award for Best Canadian Film at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival. Included here are Vermette’s micro-shorts Full of Fire (2013) and Black Rectangle (2013), filmic collages that anticipate Domus (2017), a longer-form analogue tribute to the Italian architect Carlo Mollino. 

San Diego native Fox Maxy (Payómkawichum/Ipai Kumeyaay), whose break-out feature Gush (2023) is set to have its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival this January, is represented with three short films including Maat (2020), winner of the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s Ammodo Tiger Short Film Award (2021). “Maxy’s films are a sensuous blend of documentary and mixtape, free-associating found footage, music, and digital animation into new forms of personal storytelling onscreen.” – MoMA.

ThousandSuns Cinema also highlights work from the National Film Board of Canada, who have supported many Indigenous filmmakers across decades, including Natsik Hunting (1975) and Asivaqtiin/The Hunters (1977) by Mosha Michael (Inuk), Animation from Cape Dorset (1973), which includes 16 whimsical short films created by Inuk artists, and commissions by Kent Monkman (Cree), Caroline Monnet (Algonquin), Alanis Obomsawin (Abenaki), asinnajaq (Inuk), and others. 

ThousandSuns Cinema: Indigenous Edition’s rich and varied program also includes much more and is available to view for free through January 30, 2023. This program is presented in partnership with 15+ local and international organizations, with special thanks to the National Film Board of Canada, Bawaadan Collective, and the Turtle Island – Aboriginal Education Centre. We highly recommend that you visit these spaces. Media City Film Festival’s 26th edition will be presented in person in Windsor-Detroit: June 20–24, 2023

THOUSANDSUNS ARTISTS: ★ Raven Chacon ★ Sky Hopinka   Alanis Obomsawin ★ Fox Maxy ★ Cecilia Vicuña ★ Adam Piron Anastasia Lapsui Markku Lehmuskallio ★ asinnajaq ★ Caroline Monnet ★ Colectivo Los Ingrávidos ★ Dana Claxton ★ Eve-Lauryn LaFountain ★ Kent Monkman ★ Lindsay McIntyre ★ Miguel Hilari ★ Mosha Michael ★ New Red OrderAdam Khalil ★ Zack Khalil ★ Jackson Polys ★ Cristóbal Martínez ★ Rhayne Vermette ★ Shelley Niro ★ Svetlana Romanova ★ TJ Cuthand ★ Victor Masayesva Jr. ★ Alexandra Lazarowich Solomonie Pootoogook Timmun Alariaq  Mathew Joanasie  Itee Pootoogook Pitaloosie

Media Contact: Oona Mosna, MCFF Artistic Director: mediacity@houseoftoast.ca

About MCFF: Media City Film Festival is an international festival of film and digital art dedicated to the creation, exhibition, and dissemination of the cinematic arts in Windsor–Detroit. MCFF is made possible with generous core funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council, along with support from project funders, private donors, sponsors, partners, members, audiences, artists, and viewers like you. 

About COUSIN: COUSIN is a collective supporting Indigenous artists expanding the form of film. Founded by Sky Hopinka, Adam Khalil, Alexandra Lazarowich, and Adam Piron, COUSIN creates and supports work that is personal, proudly provocative, and driven by strong artistic voices.