Thirza Cuthand


Thirza Cuthand (Canada) is a filmmaker, performance artist, and writer of Plains Cree, Scottish, and Irish descent. She is a non-binary Butch boy who uses she/her pronouns, and a member of Little Pine First Nation who has been making short experimental films and videos about sexuality, madness, Queer identity, love, and Indigeneity since 1995. Cuthand completed her BFA in Film and Video at Emily Carr University (2005), and her MA in Media Production at Ryerson University (2015). She also works as a curator and has organized programs for ImageNation and Video Out (Vancouver), Paved Art (Saskatoon), and Queer City Cinema (Regina). Her films have screened internationally, including at the Tribeca Film Festival (New York), ImagineNATIVE (Toronto), Oberhausen Film Festival, The National Gallery (Ottawa), The Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), and the 70th Berlinale, where her NDN Survival Trilogy (Reclamation, Extractions and Less Lethal Fetishes) screened at the Canadian Embassy. Cuthand was featured in the 2019 Whitney Biennial. She shared her disappointment in the controversies of the Museum’s Vice-Chair, Warren Kanders' implication in war profiteering. She lives and works in Toronto, Ontario.


ONLINE SCREENING DATES: December 2 – December 23, 2020

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Extractions, 15 minutes, 2019

Extractions, 15 min, 2019

A personal film about Canada’s extraction industry and its detrimental effects on the land and Indigenous peoples. This film parallels resource extraction with the booming child apprehension industry currently operating in Canada which is responsible for putting more Indigenous children into foster care than were in residential schools. As the filmmaker reviews her life and how these industries have affected her, she also reflects on having her own eggs retrieved and frozen to make an Indigenous baby.

In the first film of the series Extractions (2019, Canada), Cuthand tackles Canada’s resource extraction industry, but filters it through a deeply personal perspective as she offers narration about her youth as a queer indigenous kid and considers what resources were offered or denied to her. Even as she reflects on trying to honor the earth and return to old ways of being, she tries to acknowledge how she and her reservation may have benefited from resource exploitation — capitalism and colonialism are pervasive and inescapable forces. Cuthand’s film is both social critique and personal essay, as she jumps between discussions of intergenerational trauma and exploitation to her own reflections on wanting to bring a child into the world. Manitoba has the highest rate of indigenous kids in foster care — and she fears if she has kids and moves there, her kids could be taken by child services. She draws a metaphorical parallel between resource extraction and the deleterious impacts of the adoption industry, comparing the mining of resources to the exploitation of indigenous women’s bodies for children. Indigenous kids are a resource exploited to siphon money into white pockets, and pain and trauma are often commodified. But does this mean this is the end of life? Or is there a future for indigenous people? Her film ends on a note of optimism — it may seem like the end of life on earth is imminent, but she hopes that there can be a world where indigenous kids can grow. – Katie Duggan

Screening co-presented with the Canadian Filmmaker’s Distribution Centre.