Seventh Row

Essential Indigenous films, Nadia Butterfly, Princess Cyd, and more to watch this weekend

publishedabout 1 year ago
7 min read

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Wherever you are in the world, this week, there's a good chance you can now stream (or rent) one of the best films of 2020, which is also Canadian, Nadia Butterfly, as well as rent one of the delights of the LGBTQ+ film circuit, Sublet. The great queer drama Princess Cyd is also streaming worldwide on Mubi.

As Canada and the US have holidays this week commemorating the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, this is a great time to reflect and learn about Indigenous Peoples, and film is a great way to do that! We recommend some of the best Indigenous films from the territories now known as Canada, all of which are available widely across the world.

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Celebrate Indigenous Filmmakers from the territories now known as Canada

As Canada and the US have national holidays this week which ostensibly celebrate the genocide of Indigenous Peoples, we thought it was high time to recommend catching up with the best Indigenous stories on screen from the territories known as Canada.

We recently published a list of essential Indigenous films, which you can read here. This is a selection of those which are available worldwide.

Angry Inuk (Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, 2016)

Angry Inuk is available to stream free on the NFB website and CBC Gem. It’s streaming on AMC+, Tubi, Kanopy, and Film Movement Plus in the US. It’s streaming on Prime in the UK, and internationally.

Still from Angry Inuk directed by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, one of the Essential Indigenous films from the territories known as Canada.

From the introduction to our interview with director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril:

“I had to give the audience a chance to fall in love with the Inuit culture and the people," said Inuk writer-director Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. She does this and more in her passionate, thought-provoking documentary, Angry Inuk. The film is an insider’s look at seal hunting: how integral it is to Inuit culture, how it’s the best source of sustainable nutrition in the Arctic, and how international seal hunting bans are having devastating consequences for the Inuit economy and the environment. After winning the People’s Choice Award at the 2016 HotDocs Film Festival, Angry Inuk was selected as one of Canada's Top 10 Films of 2016. “I’m really excited,” said Arnaquq-Baril, “that out of the Top 10, two of the features are directed by Inuit.”
Many Inuit depend on seal hunting as a source of local, sustainable, fresh food, and on the pelts as a source of income. Cost of living in the Arctic is extremely expensive: non-local food has to travel far, which inflates costs, and there’s heating, gas, and more to pay. A case of Coke can cost $80. Seal meat is one of the healthiest dietary options, and it’s a good source of meat for the community. Plus, nothing goes to waste. Seal pelts, sold on the international market, provide crucial income for Inuit, especially since job options are scarce. However, international legislation banning seal hunting and commercial seal pelt markets has created a stigma around its sale, which has been a huge economic blow for the Inuit community.

Read the full interview.

Falls Around Her (Darlene Naponse, 2018) - CBC Gem/Hoopla Canada, Prime/Hoopla US

Falls Around Her, Darlene Naponse
Tantoo Cardinal in Falls Around Her, one of the essential Indigenous films from the territories known as Canada.

From the introduction to our interview with director Darlene Naponse:

Anishinaabe Kwe filmmaker Darlene Naponse sees a strong parallel between a toxic personal relationship and the colonialist approach to land use in Canada: both take and take, and there’s no end in sight. That parallel undergirds her beautiful new film, Falls Around Her, which follows Mary (Tantoo Cardinal), a famous but middle-aged musician who decides to stop touring and return to her grandmother’s home on a First Nations reserve.
Mary returns to the land to retreat from the vultures of the music business, sometimes including her fans, and to rediscover internal balance. Reintegrating into her community leads Mary to become involved with its inherent political activism : protecting its land from the local mining industry after the water was poisoned by a mine constructed without proper consultation.”

Read the full interview.

Now streaming worldwide

Sublet - worldwide - July 2-4

Although Sublet has secured US distribution, it's yet to be released elsewhere, so this is a rare chance to see it worldwide.

Here's an excerpt from Orla's review:

John Benjamin Hickey plays Michael, a New York Times travel writer visiting Tel Aviv as part of a series where he attempts to sense a city’s spirit in the space of five days. He is encouraged to diverge from his touristy itinerary by Tomer (Niv Nissim), the young film student whose apartment Michael is subletting. Their relationship is tentative and awkward at first, but they warm to each other quickly as they talk, share stories, and glean their shared queerness from subtle social cues. Their adventures range from buying a cup of “the best pomegranate juice in Tel Aviv” to sunbathing on the beach to visiting one of Tomer’s friend’s experimental dance shows.
The main appeal of Sublet is Michael and Tomer’s back and forth, particularly as they try to understand each others’ differing cultural and generational perspectives on queerness. Similar to Boy Meets Boy, Sublet depicts one gay man (Michael) in a commited, monogamous relationship, and another (Tomer) who steadfastly insists that he only has one-night stands, usually arranged via hook-up apps like Grindr. Michael is grappling with whether or not to take the next step with his husband and try for a baby. Meanwhile, Tomer is living in the moment, and considering whether to move to Berlin, where he imagines he’ll be even more artistically and sexually liberated. With less than a week to spend together, each man enthusiastically questions the other about his life. Through Tomer, Michael recalls the freedom of his past. Through Michael, Tomer glimpses what a settled-down future might look like, and eagerly listens to stories about Michael’s youth as a gay man, particularly living through the AIDS crisis.

Read full review.

Click here for tickets.

Nadia, Butterfly - Mubi worldwide (except Canada where you can rent it on iTunes for $1.99)

One of the best films of 2020 (a Cannes label film to boot!) is now finally available outside of Canada!

Here's an excerpt from the intro to my interview with director Pascal Plante:

With Nadia, Butterfly, Québécois writer-director Pascal Plante aims to do for competitive swimming on screen what Fred Astaire once did for dancers in musicals: make it all real. Astaire pioneered filming dance scenes in wide shots with long takes so that you could see the dancers’ entire bodies and know that they were really doing it themselves. “It’s very clear that it’s Ginger and Fred who are dancing for their own pleasure,” Plante told me. “And then we see them act before and after and we’ve connected with them through their dance numbers. In many ways we treated those swimming scenes in the way those musical numbers are captured in those musicals.” The way Plante talks about shooting swimming reminded me of how filmmakers like Frederick Wiseman and Alla Kovgan talk about shooting dance, to make it real and present, so you can see what the dancers are actually doing.
Having spent his youth as a high level competitive swimmer, Plante wanted to actually show real swimming on screen and get it right. He didn’t want to use any camera tricks; he wanted people to understand what these athletic bodies look like and how they move. So he cast real Olympic swimmers as his two protagonists: Katerine Savard as Nadia, and Ariane Mainville as her best friend, Marie-Pierre. That also helped him to create a realistic imagining of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, based on their experiences at past Olympic games and behind-the-scenes footage he found of these events.

Read the full interview.

Read Orla's interview with CSA-nominated cinematographer Stéphanie Anne Weber Biron.

Princess Cyd - Mubi Worldwide

This recently made our list of 25 unsung queer cinema treasures.

A still from Princess Cyd, one of the unsung queer cinema treasures on this list.

Stephen Cone’s Princess Cyd is the story of a queer teenage girl, Cyd (Jessie Pinnick), and her aunt, Miranda (Rebecca Spence) navigating their sexual and religious identities during a summer spent together in Chicago. The open, athletic, and chatty Cyd — who doesn’t read — quickly clashes with her quiet, famous author aunt who hasn’t been in her life for years; Miranda’s seriousness about her religion causes further clashes because Cyd is less sure of her spirituality. Cyd has a boyfriend back home but quickly falls for Mohawked barista Katie (Malic White). Over the course of three weeks, Cyd and Miranda talk, go to the beach, hang out with Miranda’s friends, and slowly find a way to connect. It’s a sweet and lovely film about two lonely people finding something in each other. Better still, Cone fully fleshes out the community around them.

Princess Cyd is also available on Kanopy and Tubi in Canada and the US, Hulu in the US, and Prime in the US and UK.

Watch our masterclass with Stephen Cone and Ashley McKenzie.


Alex Heeney, Editor-in-Chief

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