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DAREarts Attawapiskat 2017 Song: We are the People & Reflection: artist-educator

The following post originally appears in DAREarts blog and has been reposted with DAREarts’ permission. Special thanks to DAREarts for sharing this piece with us and for inviting ArtBridges to participate. For more information on DAREarts, please visit DAREarts.com 

Written by DAREarts artist-educator Glenn Marais.

“DAREarts came to the community of Attawapiskat to hear a story about the original Bear Clan from a knowledge keeper, John Matthews, and to take that story and create a film, visual art, a song and a slideshow of pictures to accompany the music. We worked for three days, two seventy five minute periods, with the high school students on a very condensed schedule, including two evenings and one day after school.  What happened was incredible as the students and teachers came together and worked in the spirit of true partnership to create a stunning and moving cinematic interpretation of the story, with original music created by them and a powerful and moving song that expressed the story of their lives and their love of the land.

The sun sets late in Attawapiskat. At 10:00 O’clock it starts to go down and the night sky comes out, crystal clear constellations arcing across the stratosphere, a sailor’s map, starry legends over a world that sleeps but does not rest.  It rises early, breaking the horizon with a brilliant northern radiance illuminating the dusty streets and weathered roofs of the reserve.  The homes are falling apart after the tyranny of the long, cold winter and the morning sounds of rumbling trucks and nails being driven, blend into the chaotic orchestra of a community waking and beginning to move through the day. Its sounds are just like any other town or community coming to life with the promise of the morning. Only here, it is less about promise than survival. There is a magnificent white Catholic church, tall and majestic by the water with stained glass windows that tell the history of the people and whispers of apologies for past wrongs.  Truths have yet to come and apologies given for Residential schools and that is part of the healing that must happen. It is part of a history long buried, that has been disturbed, opened and left like a forgotten graveyard.

Today’s youth live within the reality of the schools ignoble past.  In the shadow of their parents haunted memories, they struggle to burst free and find the glorious sun that shines so long in the summer and hibernates in the winter. Yesterday, one of the high school students walked and talked with us and her words were true, direct and honest, filled with a piercing, unabated intelligence that captivated and charmed us and as she ascended the wooden stairs that are ubiquitous in this community, slowly opening the door to her home that rested in a state of decay, my heart broke for her and I felt ashamed because my feelings seem powerless to help her.

The name reserve fails to describe the pulsing heart of this community.  What a shallow name for a community of people.  We name things in this world for convenience of categorization and to displace the fact that we have committed wrongs. A dressed up wound still bleeds despite our arrogant nature and human nature is arrogant, particularly when it vaunts it’s self as civilized and tromps over anything that doesn’t fit inside it’s neat, tight lineage. The reserve isn’t a dumping ground for an inconvenient culture.  It is a living breathing community that celebrates and mourns, dances and shuffles, sings and cries like any other.  When you fly into a northern community, the sheer beauty of it is staggering.  Hundreds of pristine lakes and rivers dot the landscape of silty islands, whose fish laden waters and abundant wildlife enrich the land. The land is the mother and the connection runs deep, through memories, and stories of creation, and growth with 44 clans coming from the original clan bear clan.  An ancient system of identification and relationship to the animal world that kept the bloodlines as pure as the waters that surround this island community.  The name Attawapiskat means, “People of the parting of the rocks” and it is an island of many created by the surge of the mighty Attawapiskat river, where the people live in harmony with great respect for nature and the balance of life.

This land is much more than its surface appearance of dirt, dusty roads and broken homes. It has the pulse of the Earth mother and connects the people in ways we can’t begin to imagine. We look at land as possession, here it is the heartbeat of a world that is interdependent, with everything flowing and weaving in and out of a glorious kaleidoscopic tapestry that bedazzles the eyes and stirs the soul. It is the sound of a motorboat powering a launch into the rising sun, the crack of a rifle across a winter plain, bringing home food to a family during the cold winter season, and it is the cry of the pow wow singer whose voice is the sound of the elders echoing through the universe. What great spirit inhabits this land and what wonders await if we can learn to walk in humble shoes and beside our First Nations people.

I have heard people say we should remove them from the reserve and integrate them into society as if the “them” in this conversation are inanimate beings that we can move on some self-righteous chessboard. What about a question? How can we work with you to make things better for you? Where can we begin and sit down with you as brothers and sisters in a circle and come to an understanding and a reckoning of our true history, so that we can move forward together, like the two rows on the Iroquois Wampum belt, in a peaceful union? I don’t dream of such things, I speak of them and when I play my guitar and sing and drum, I sing to the heavens, the Earth, my family and my promise, to never stop until things change.  For now, I walk these dusty roads with my eyes, ears and heart open and look always forward to the sun, moon and stars, just like the words in the song that we wrote together:

“We are the sun, moon and stars, we are the trees
All around us, is everything we need
Everything we need is all around”

We live in an abundant world, made shallow by greed, and in this great land of broken promise and faded dreams are the glittering embers of a glorious past that knew, everything we needed was around us and not to take more than we needed. I heard a story on this trip from a noble young man of great character from Attawapiskat, who told us of being pursued by a wolf, when his skidoo broke down.  He told us how he shot around the wolf to scare him off and kept doing this even as the wolf closed in on him.  A man of lesser character would have killed the wolf.  He did not. This is the character of a man cast in iron and made of blood and bone who taught me so much with the simple power of his story.  Our life is meant to be lived in the teachings, with humility and wisdom with respect for ourselves and the world, with courage in the face of danger, so that we will lead with love and honesty, and in that way come to know our truth. To know the teachings of the grandfathers is easy, to live them is hard. Thank you my young friend for a life well lived and lessons well taught.


To read an overview of DAREarts’ week in Attawapiskat, click here.

DAREarts is a charity that empowers young at-risk Canadians aged 9 to 19 to ignite change as leaders. Visit darearts.com to learn more. DAREarts ‘First Roots’ program partners with First Nations to work alongside youths, local artists and elders and, together, address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and suicide.

PROJECT SUPPORTERS: Province of Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Ontario150; Northbridge Insurance; Anne Livingston; David & Teresa Thomas; Noront Resources; The Paul Semple Award; Allan Drive Middle School”

-posted with permission from DAREarts, read the original post here
Read DAREarts’ profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

DAREarts in Attawapiskat: “Our Stories are a Part of Us”

The following post originally appears in DAREarts blog and has been reposted with DAREarts’ permission. Special thanks to DAREarts for sharing this piece with us and for inviting ArtBridges to participate. For more information on DAREarts, please visit DAREarts.com 

“In June 2017, DAREarts returned to Attawapiskat FN for a week of empowering workshops that helped many youth discover their voices and inner leadership. DAREarts workshops are facilitated by DAREarts artist-educators in partnership with the community. 

The first of our team to arrive in Attawapiskat FN was DAREarts artist-educator and cinematographer Peter Elliott, who met with the grade 7s of Kattawapiskak Elementary School on Friday to introduce them to DAREarts and the art of filmmaking. The class watched several short films created by other DAREarts First Nations youth. Peter then dared the class to take a big risk without being afraid of failure: they were going to create their own short film in just ONE day! In groups, the class ventured out onto the school grounds armed with cameras and creativity, capturing a variety of different angles and shots. Peter then used this footage, along with stock footage of an alligator, to bring their hilarious creation to life as “Attawapigator”. When they saw their video it was a raging success, and they asked for an encore viewing. Despite many of the students being quiet and shy, they were now ready to take on more DAREarts!

DAREarts Lead Teacher Laura MacKinnon, DAREarts artist-educator and musician Glenn Marais, and ArtBridges’ Seanna Connell arrived over the weekend to join Peter. The team met the grade 9 class at Vezina Secondary School on Monday morning, and after a creative introduction the class welcomed knowledge keeper John Matthews. He captivated the students with a story of the first clan, the Bear Clan, offering the youths inspiration for the week ahead. In the afternoon the team met the grade 12 class and repeated their introductions, and John Matthews returned to share the story with them as well. Both classes were invited to work with the team in the evenings throughout the week. The first evening had a small turnout, but was massively productive! Colin arrived first, spending the evening making beats on the keyboard with Glenn, brainstorming lyrics with Laura, and learning to use the video camera with Peter. Tyler then arrived, making a beeline for Glenn who worked with him to compose a whole melody on the keyboard. Chandler and Jamie were the last to arrive, working with Laura and Seanna to capture footage and write the film’s plot.

Tuesday was fast-paced, with the class formed into two groups: the Musicians and the Film Crew. The musicians worked with Glenn and Laura on the verses for their song and created music for their short film, while the film crew started casting and shooting their first scene with Peter and Seanna. A few of the youths were hanging back, but they took action when given the roles of assistant director, set photographer, and editor. In the evening, youths Keenan, Colin, and Jack Jr. (who is also a DAREarts Leadership Award recipient) arrived right away. Keenan worked with Glenn and Jack Jr. to record two rap verses he had written during the day, and Colin was joined by another arriving youth, Chandler, to go out and film using the shot list.

On Wednesday, another group was created: Visual Artists! Throughout the day, the musicians finished writing the chorus of their song and prepared introductory music for the film score. One youth, Ambrose, skillfully layered different notes and sounds to add the finishing touches to the chorus. The film crew worked on several group shot scenes in the teepee frame near the school, with youth Jade working as our set photographer. The visual artists created chalk pastel drawings of bears that were integrated into the film using green screen. In the evening, several youths met to record parts of the song, and Jack Jr. offered to narrate the film. Colin acted as audio engineer, Syvanna sang the chorus, Jack Jr. sang and recorded a traditional hand drum song, and Tyler rapped to add a powerful end to the track.

Thursday was a special Culture Days celebration at the school, so our team spent the day preparing the materials the youths had created. On Friday afternoon, everyone was welcomed to a special feast at the school that celebrated both the traditional Culture Days activities and the youths’ accomplishments with DAREarts. The feast began with a prayer and then everyone ate, enjoying many local delights. Once finished, they squeezed into teacher Mandy Alves’s classroom to screen the youths’ film, “Bear Clan”, and a slideshow music video created using their song and photography. There was laughter and joy all around! The students and audience squished together for a group photo before saying their goodbyes for the night.  It was the perfect end to a very special week, and the youths were so proud to bring smiles to the faces of their elders, teachers, families, and community members.


To read artist-educator Glenn Marais’s reflection, click here.

DAREarts is a charity that empowers young at-risk Canadians aged 9 to 19 to ignite change as leaders.  Visit darearts.com to learn more. DAREarts ‘First Roots’ program partners with First Nations to work alongside youths, local artists and elders and, together, address challenges such as school absenteeism, hopelessness and suicide.

PROJECT SUPPORTERS: Province of Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture & Sport; Ontario150; Northbridge Insurance; Anne Livingston; David & Teresa Thomas; Noront Resources; The Paul Semple Award; Allan Drive Middle School”

-posted with permission from DAREarts, read the original post here
Read DAREarts’ profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

IndieGoGo Campaign for A Safe Space – The Film

“Have you been looking for a way to engage against discrimination?

Writer Samih Nassar teamed with producer Lindsay Ogus and director Michael Flax to create a film that could channel our passion against today’s growing discrimination. We wanted to create a fresh narrative that reflects Canadian diversity. By supporting A Safe Space, you support not just a film but also a social movement. We are providing a platform for Muslim females in the arts to share their work and their stories with new audiences, and using the film to show why such a platform is necessary.

We spoke to dozens of Muslim artists about their experiences, and sent the script out to them to make sure we made a truly authentic film. In our campaign video, they tell us why this film needs to be made. Make sure to watch our campaign video!

There are two ways to help:

1) Contribute financially – even small contributions raise our popularity and give us more visibility on Indiegogo!
2) Post to Social Media or Email your friends (see links below) – in the end, the more people hear about us, the more likely we are to meet our target!

For full details on the crowdfunding campaign, check out https://igg.me/at/asafespacefilm! For even more behind the scenes photos, bios of our cast and crew, and news from the film, check out our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/asafespacefilm!

Thank you for supporting me, and supporting A Safe Space!

IndieGoGo Campaign for A Safe Space – The Film
Campaign Runs: May 17th – June 15th

IndieGoGo Campaign | Facebook (Like our page!) | Twitter | Instagram

-submitted by A Safe Space

Profile Highlight: Spectrum Productions (Montréal)

As ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory grows, we realize that it’s a bit overwhelming to read through all of the profiles. We’re hoping that by occasionally highlighting some profiles on our blog, you may learn about an initiative that you may not have initially seen in the directory. Also, if you know of a Canadian community-engaged arts for social change initiative that isn’t in our directory, but should be, please let us know! We love and need your input/feedback in building this resource! -Lisa, Content Coordinator at ArtBridges.


Spectrum Productions provides a unique platform for youth with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to realize their potential through social, creative, exploratory and vocational opportunities in media production.”

To read more about Spectrum Productions, please see their profile in ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

The Touching Ground Festival (Jumblies Theatre, Toronto)

“This spring Jumblies is producing the Touching Ground Festival – a suite of new works on a common theme – the culmination of many activities with many people over the past three years of inhabiting this brand new and ancient location – now called CityPlace, in this place now called Toronto. During our time here, we have delved into the Indigenous and layered histories and current sounds, sights and voices of the area, while also making connections across the city and the country. Threads from all of these explorations appear in our activities over the coming weeks.

As many of you already know, starting on Saturday May 13th, until the end of June, Touching Ground events will be taking place in three main areas: The Ground Floor (132 Fort York Blvd), Evergreen Brick Works (555 Bayview Ave.), and Historic Fort York (250 Fort York Blvd). In addition, Jumblies will be collaborating with our partners elsewhere in Toronto.

Click on each event for more information about some of our Festival highlights:

Plus: three short films, a giant turtle quilt, comics, a new musical in-progress, workshops, exhibitions, celebrations, and more!

For more information, including a full list of festival events, schedule, workshops, and how to get involved visit www.touchinggroundfestival.ca

-submitted by Jumblies Theatre
Read Jumblies’ Profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory & Map

Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival Seeking Volunteers!

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Scarborough Arts invites you to volunteer for this momentous 5th year of the Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival! The festival runs from June 6th to 11th, 2017, and this year is promising to be the best one yet, with a variety of film programs, parties, concerts, industry meetings, guests, and of course more films!

The Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival is only made possible by our amazing volunteers. This festival was founded as a volunteer driven project to bring international stories to the borough of Scarborough, uniting residents and guests under the lights of the screen. We are tremendously grateful for the time and dedication of our volunteers. We sincerely hope that you consider joining the volunteer team this summer!

As a volunteer you will be meeting and interacting with all kinds of new people, developing and sharing your unique skillset while participating and supporting the arts. For volunteering with the festival you will receive free access to all screenings. You will also be provided with a t-shirt, training sessions and volunteer appreciation events!

To apply for a volunteer position please complete this application form.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email volunteer[at]scarborougharts.com”

-from Scarborough Arts website

The 18th Dawson City International Short Film Festival (April 13-17)

dawsoncityfilmfest

“We are thrilled to announce our exciting line up!
Opening with a special screening of FROZEN TIME: DAWSON CITY, the feature film made with restored footage from the Dawson Film Find. Filmmaker Bill Morrison will be in attendance to introduce his work and host a Q&A after the screening along with two of the film’s subjects and key researchers, Kathy Jones-Gates, Director, Dawson Museum 1974-1986 and Michael Gates, Curator of Collections, Parks Canada 1977-1996.

Come out and see over 90 short films which include a massive line up of works from Yukon filmmakers, including, Lulu Keating, Suzanne Crocker, Alan Code, Daniel Janke, Krista Davis, Kelly Milner, Naomi Mark, Vivian Belik, Chris Healey, Blair Douglas, Veronica Verkley, and the winner of the Yukon 48 Film Challenge, HOT NUTS!

Join our fabulous guests for exciting and interactive workshops. Jay Bulckaert and Pablo Saravanja (aRTLeSS Collective) from Yellowknife, Gail Maurice (last year’s audience choice winner), Max Fraser along with our current artist in resident Sarah Gignac, will be sharing their vast experiences with our audience.

Check out our website for all the programming details and for ticket info.

-from Klondike Institute of Art and Culture newsletter
Read KIAC’s profile on ArtBridges’ Community-Engaged Arts Directory and Map

Call for Youth Photographers and Filmmakers for EAST Animating Democracy 2017 (Scarborough Arts)

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“Are you interested in photos and film and are between the ages of 16 and 21? We want to hear from you!

 

Application Deadline: Monday, April 10, 2017 at 5 PM
Download the Application Form HERE.

Scarborough Arts will be hosting a FREE intensive 8-week workshop with media artists Solana Cain and Chris Laxton. Over these 8 weeks, you will have the opportunity to learn the technical aspects of photography and film-making and explore stories that matter to you! Topics that will be covered include: camera approach and practice, post-production, editing, and jobs and freelance opportunities.

PLUS: Films created during the run of EAST Animating Democracy will be premiered at the 5th Annual Scarborough Worldwide Film Festival—the biggest international film festival in Scarborough—in June 2017!

This is your chance to explore your passions through the lens! Ready to apply? Download the Application Form and send it back to Jen D. Fabico, Program Director at programs@scarborougharts.com. For more information, contact 416-698-7322. The deadline to apply is Monday, April 10, 2017 at 5 PM. Workshops take place on Wednesdays, 6-8 PM, at Warden Hilltop Community Centre on 25 Mendelssohn Street.”

 

Call for Submissions (locally & nationally): 15th Annual Regent Park Film Festival (Toronto)

Regent Park Film Festival logo

“Every year, we welcome films of all lengths and genres that reflect the multitude of experiences that make up our cities and communities. The Regent Park Film Festival is especially dedicated to showcasing works by Indigenous filmmakers and filmmakers of colour, as well as works by trans, queer and female identified filmmakers. We encourage local, national and international participation.  During the festival, we offer a school program, which is a fun film festival experience with educational programming specifically tailored to students and teachers from schools across the GTA.

WE INVITE FILMS FOR THE FOLLOWING CATEGORIES:

GENERAL PROGRAM: Features works by filmmakers from a multi-cultural and/or Aboriginal backgrounds and/or films that explore difference and solidarity, immigrant experiences, urbanization, cultural identity and resonate with the inner city, community based, trans-national and transient realities of Regent Park and similar communities in Toronto, in Canada, and all over the world.

EMERGING DIRECTORS SPOTLIGHT: Features works created by emerging filmmakers under 26. This program encourages self-representation and seeks to promote dialogue within the community, as well as among the guest youth filmmakers from Regent Park and other parts of the world.

SCHOOL PROGRAM: Features works suitable for or Grade 1-8, featuring themes relevant and engaging for youth. This program encourages self-representation and seeks to promote dialogue within the community, as well as among the guest youth filmmakers from Regent Park and other parts of the world.”

For submission details, please visit www.regentparkfilmfestival.com

Program Highlight: Community Heartbeat (BluePrintForLife & BluePrint Pathways)

blueprintforlife-blueprintpathways

“BluePrintForLife has now delivered over 120 projects in over 50 communities receiving national and international awards and recognition as a healing program. We have some exciting news ! Blueprint has developed a new mental health program to re-engage communities we have visited in the past, and engage youth who were to young to attend our program previously.

We will still deliver our flagship week intensive where we become the replacement school for a week, but we will not only employ traditional cultural elements but we will be designing a full community show incorporating, dance, stomping and drumming.

blueprint-troysextonWe are excited to highlight Troy Sexton who has toured the world in the musical Stomp and is currently the official bucket drummer for the Toronto Raptors basketball team. We will be creating a customized community show that represents elements reflective of each unique community we visit. We will be asking communities to lend things like oil drums, snowmobiles, canoes, kayaks, Kamitiks etc which will all help create the unique stage design the youth will be interacting with.

When we need a break from stomping, drumming and cultural activities we will be engaging the youth on topics that you want Blueprint to address such as bullying, drugs and alcohol, abuse, suicide, managing anger and healing paths. We will also be introducing meditation, journaling, and spoken word during the week.

Teachers, social workers, police, elders, recreation coordinators, and school counselors are strongly encouraged to attend as this is guaranteed to be amazing professional development and training for them, creating deeper relationships within the community.

blueprint-pondinlet

All of this will be filmed and a short video produced of the week and final show so the community can relive the pride, passion and hope. This program typically takes place from 9 am to 5 pm each day from Monday to Friday with the final night show being Friday evening.

Blueprint is looking at numerous funding opportunities to help subsidize our new program so that communities will not need to bear all of the cost. We are asking communities to send us a simple one page letter stating you are excited to look at Blueprint returning and engaging your youth on a range of mental health issues with this unique healing program. We will use these letters to assist in our search for funding.

Email Steve@blueprintforlife.ca if you are interested in having “Community Heartbeat“ come to your community. Mental Health letters of recommendation are available upon request.
We look forward to returning to your community, seeing old friends, and creating new ones.”

-submitted by BluePrintForLife