A group of Indigenous girls in Calgary release their second short film on Friday called Shadows in Time, dealing with racism and sexism based on their lived experiences.
The film follows the success of their first short film called The road, which was released last year and explored various issues surrounding Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
The road has since received awards, including Best Female Issue at the 2021 Vancouver Independent Film Festival.
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Everyone who participated in the last project said that they hope that this latest production will also have the same reception.
“It surprises me. I never thought our films would be as big as they are,” said Brooke Stronzigl, co-writer and actress. Shadows in Time.
Like the first movie, Shadows in Time is a collection of stories by young women, ages 10 to 17, compiled by local playwright Eugene Stickland.
The screenplay was then adapted for the screen by Calgary director Kristina Fithern-Stiele and produced by Stardale Women’s Group, which helps Indigenous girls overcome obstacles.
“It’s graphic, extremely hard, that’s how girls describe it, and it’s very moving,” said Helen McPhaden, the film’s executive producer and founder of Stardale.
Strongeagle, 15, is from Pasqua First Nation in Saskatchewan, but grew up in Calgary with her grandmother.
She remembers an important moment in the beginning of her life, when she felt different from everyone else. He says it happened when he first went to elementary school.
“And I remember coming home crying, crying to my grandmother, asking her, ‘Why am I not white, why was I not born white?’ said Stronzigl.
She says she is now proud to be a native and no longer feels that way. But looking back, she says she still feels bad that she made her grandmother cry.
Today, she says more people are resisting racism – but she still observes it in small ways – such as the way people respond when she says her name.
“Indirect racism is definitely one thing,” Stronzigl said.
Fithern-Stiele says that because these were the girls’ personal stories, she thought they would have the biggest impact if they were told directly on camera.
“Putting people in a position where they have to listen to what these girls have been through – and empathize with it and realize that this is still the way of the world is, unfortunately,” Fithern-Stiele said.
Strongeagle believes the strategy worked.
“I’m surprised at how loud our words really can be when we have the voice to say them, to say what we need to hear.”
McFadden says the first film has received rave reviews and has been screened at various organizations, including the Calgary Police Department.
The girls and Stardale hope to expand their audience even further and introduce both films to the Calgary class, where they say some of these experiences have their roots.
“As truth and reconciliation were only on this precipice. We have a long way to go,” McFadden said.
Free viewing Shadows in Time takes place on Friday night online and in person at the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University, from 7 p.m. More information on getting free tickets and live streaming is available here.
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