#2. A number of the films deal with issues of authorship and whose voice should be used in telling a story...

by asmith2017 on November 4, 2017 - 2:00pm

#2. A number of the films deal with issues of authorship and whose voice should be used in telling a story. Whose stories are being told in films (or a specific film) we watch in class? Who should tell these stories?


It’s not hard to find an old Western movie that depicts Indigenous people as their negative and false stereotypes. In fact, many modern movies today still use these harmful depictions to represent Indigenous people. It seems that the common thread is the lack of Indigenous involvement when creating the films. Films made by non-Indigenous directors, writers, and actors seem to miss the mark in terms of stereotypical representations and negative portrayals. This is why I think it is important for films about Indigenous culture, peoples, or stories to be told from the perspective of those Indigenous people.

The film we watched in class “Rhymes for Young Ghouls” is a perfect example of what can happen when films are made from an Indigenous perspective, rather than a white perspective. A quick search reveals that almost the entire cast of this film is made up of aboriginal Canadians and the director himself is a Mi’kmaq filmmaker. This is significant and in my opinion contributes to a higher level of authenticity and honesty, something that is rarely seen when Indigenous people or their stories are depicted in films created from virtually any other perspective. Because even though this film is fictional, it is based on very real events that took place in Canada and still have a deep effect on many Indigenous communities today.

Effectively, it seems only logical that whoever’s story is being told in a film, they should be the one telling that story. As evidenced by “Rhymes for Young Ghouls” the voices of those Indigenous people who are involved in making a film which depicts residential schools, Indian agents, and treaties is always going to be a more honest version of the story, in my opinion, than depictions from a European colonial perspective. For so many years the Indigenous voice has been silenced. Colonialism has taken away Indigenous land, culture, language and so much more. From a broader perspective, it does not seem right that disenfranchised communities and cultures, such as Canada’s Indigenous peoples, are not being given priority to tell their own stories. As it is important for us as Canadians to listen from a perspective other than our own. Especially in the case of Canada where it is true that many Canadians’ knowledge of Indigenous peoples comes solely from the dominant European perspective which is full of inaccuracies and negative stereotypes.

Further, it seems only natural that these voices should rise up as part of reconciliation and reclaim their stories. “Rhymes for Young Ghouls” is the perfect example of a well made film that contributes to this reclamation. After all, Indigenous people were the ones most impacted by the actions taken on them by European colonialists, so who are we to tell them their voices and perspectives are not valid? It is true that people are experts in their own lives and it seems unnecessary that other cultures are choosing to speak over other culture’s voices. Ultimately the people that should be telling these stories are the ones whose story is being told.

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