When Dreamspeakers Festival Society started nearly 30 years ago, it was one of two Indigenous film festivals in the world. The festival, which supports Indigenous film and art from across the world, is making its return to in-person programming at Metro Cinema for nine days this month.
“One of the things that we talk about here at Dreamspeakers is challenging people’s cultural expectations of Indigenous people,” says Christine Frederick, executive director of Dreamspeakers Festival Society. “So, what can people expect? We’re hoping for the unexpected. We’re hoping to challenge people’s expectations of us and move away from some of the kitschy symbolism that has plagued a lot of our culture, in terms of mainstream consumption of it.”
This year, Dreamspeakers presents 36 films international and local films that were chosen from hundreds of submissions. The schedule of films is categorized by themes such as reconciliation, relationships, resilience, revenge, romance and revival. The festival features a handful of films by Alberta talent like Abducted, a story about a young girl with an at-risk lifestyle who goes missing, and Premonition: On the Eve of Signing Treaty 6, a short film about the creation of the treaties. Festival attendees can choose to watch the films at Metro Cinema or virtually.
“Being in-person is a way for us to celebrate a return to gathering the people. As Indigenous people and Cree people, we believe that there’s something quite magical and important that happens when we gather the people and commit to our sense of community, but we also deeply respect that we all come to community in different ways,” says Frederick. “We want to honour people who maybe don’t want to come out yet, who maybe feel more comfortable in their own home. Or maybe they even want to have their own watch parties at home with their own friends.”
Receive access to all films in the Dreamspeakers lineup with the $50 all access virtual pass, or see the films at Metro Cinema for $15 per showing from May 27 to June 4.
Dreamspeakers is also hosting an open house of Indigenous-owned Shooters Production Studio on June 1, an industry networking event on June 7 and an Arts in the Alley event on June 4.