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TIFF 2022 Review: We Are Still Here – “Will hopefully be an inspiration for others”

Indigenous filmmakers from Australia, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the South Pacific depict the devastating impact of 250 years of colonialism.

10 different Indigenous cinematic talents showcase their various styles and interpretations of what it is like to live as subjugated people both in the past and present times.  The stories featured in the anthology are intercut rather than presented separately which could be confusing to follow but in fact, the narrative decision keeps things visually interesting and diverse.

Nothing quite matches the opening where two Indigenous women are fishing out in the ocean and literally catch a British sailing ship that overshadows their boat. This is all done with roto animation which adds to the surrealism and dream-like beauty of the scene.  One has to smile at how the colonial damnation is hammered home to the audience as it is done in such a clever and unexpected fashion.  It is given an exclamation mark with the mission statement that immediately appears afterwards.

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The same ingenuity is not maintained throughout as it feels more like familiar territory being treaded.  Not sure that making use of stereotypes advances the cause but certainly makes the point of view very loud and clear.  The real remarkable achievement is the sense of community that enabled this project to come into being and provided the opportunity for the perspective and voices of Indigenous filmmakers to be seen and heard, and will hopefully be an inspiration for others to pick up a camera and tell their own stories.

The 47th Toronto International Film Festival runs September 8-18, 2022, and for more information visit tiff.net.    

Trevor Hogg is a freelance video editor and writer who currently resides in Canada; he can be found at LinkedIn.

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