Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance

Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance

                                Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance
| 1 h 59 min

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In July 1990, a dispute over a proposed golf course to be built on Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) lands in Oka, Quebec, set the stage for a historic confrontation that would grab international headlines and sear itself into the Canadian consciousness. Director Alanis Obomsawin—at times with a small crew, at times alone—spent 78 days behind Kanien’kéhaka lines filming the armed standoff between protestors, the Quebec police and the Canadian army. Released in 1993, this landmark documentary has been seen around the world, winning over a dozen international awards and making history at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it became the first documentary ever to win the Best Canadian Feature award. Jesse Wente, Director of Canada’s Indigenous Screen Office, has called it a “watershed film in the history of First Peoples cinema.”

This film contains scenes of violence. Viewer discretion is advised.

Manifesto Point # 1: The original project idea and goals come from the community partner. Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance is arguably Alanis Obomsawin's most important film, documenting the military 1990 siege of a Mohawk reserve near Oka, Quebec, and its causes. I chose this film here because the celebrated Abenaki filmmaker told me recently: "For me a real documentary is when you are really listening to somebody. They are the ones that tell you what the story is. Not you." Alanis said these words in the short the film I made about her, called Dream Magic (2008). I actually first saw Alanis in person behind the barricades at the Oka Crisis, back in 1990. She was there with her camera, and with army helicopters and madness swirling all around, she was an apparition of hope. I was a student journalist, furious with the disparity unfolding between the reality I saw before me, and the mainstream media's skewed interpretations of it. But because of Alanis, I was also witnessing the power of documentary firsthand. It is Alanis who first showed me almost two decades ago how collaborative the process can — and should — be. And from whom to draw inspiration.

Katerina Cizek
From the playlist: Manifesto for Interventionist Media - because Art is a Hammer

Delve into the action of an age-old struggle as Alanis Obomsawin spends 78 tense days filming the now-infamous stand-off between the Mohawks, the Quebec police and the Canadian army.

Alanis Obomsawin
From the playlist: Tribute to Alanis Obomsawin

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Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance, Alanis Obomsawin, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

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  • writer
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • director
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • editor
    Yurij Luhovy
  • camera
    Roger Rochat
    Jean-Claude Labrecque
    Philippe Amiguet
    Susan Trow
    François Brault
    Barry Perles
    Zoe Dirse
    Jocelyn Simard
    André-Luc Dupont
    Savas Kalogeras
  • additional photography
    Sylvain Julienne
    Jean-Pierre Rancourt
    Marcel Poulin
  • still photographer
    Robert Galbraith
    John Kenney
    Ryan Remiorz
  • location sound
    Raymond Marcoux
    Robert Verebely
    Ismaël Cordeiro
    Marie-France Delagrave
    Catherine Van Der Donckt
    Serge Fortin
    Juan Gutiérrez
  • original music composer
    Claude Vendette
    Francis Grandmont
  • musician
    Claude Vendette
    Francis Grandmont
    Pierre Gauthier
  • traditional song
    Leonard, Chef Nelson
    Tom Paul
  • assistant camera
    Michel Bissonnette
    Jocelyn Simard
    Michel Motard
    Stephen Reizes
    Yves Beaudoin
    Nash Read
    Simon Leblanc
    Guylaine Dionne
    Jeff Patenaude
  • electrician
    Guy Rémillard
    Roger Martin
    François Warot
    Jean Berthiaume
  • first assistant editor
    Carrie Katz
  • second assistant editor
    Ruby-Marie Dennis
  • cutting room assistant
    René Robitaille
    Claudia Morgado
    Doreen Steven
    Sia Koukoulas
  • sound editor
    Tony Reed
    Don Ayer
  • assistant sound editor
    Donna Vekteris
  • music editor
    Chris Crilly
  • assistant music editor
    Catherine Merklinger
  • voice
    Jack Burning
    Herbie Barnes
  • research
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • narrator
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • production assistant
    Julie Ferland
  • original drawings
    Robert Verrall
  • re-recording mixer
    Jean-Pierre Joutel
  • apprentice mixer
    Terry Mardini
  • voice recording
    Michel Chalut
  • music recording studio
    Studio 270
  • animation camera
    Pierre Landry
    Lynda Pelley
  • visual optical
    Susan Gourley
  • title design
    Val Teodori
  • graphic artist
    Kate De Volpi
  • studio administrator
    Marie Tonto-Donati
  • post-production coordinator
    Grace Avrith
  • producer
    Wolf Koenig
    Alanis Obomsawin
  • executive producer
    Colin Neale

  • Krymz

    19:21 "warriors go home" it is their home, what are you even saying?

    Krymz, 15 Dec 2022
  • None

    Very good documentary!

    None, 31 Mar 2022
  • Anne

    Film fort intéressant, surtout pour mettre en évidence le sort tragique qui était réservé aux Mohawks par les forces de l'ordre. Cela met en lumière la discrimination et est une vraie honte pour tout le peuple québécois! De tels événements n'auraient pas du avoir lieu, le gouvernement et les dirigeants auraient du respecter leurs promesses et les peuples des Premières Nations et la communauté québécoise avait le devoir de réagir à ces événements et de les faire cesser. Merci de permettre l'éducation de la population et des générations futures pour éviter la perpétuation de tours de forces irrespectueux et discriminatoires! Votre travail est fort respectable!

    Anne, 1 Jun 2021
  • Emily

    @sixam: to suggest that the warriors *weren't* morally superior is to suggest that there is a moral equivalence in terms of the use of force by both sides. But, there is not. The Mohawks were not taking the land of anyone else - they were defending their land. So whilst their use of force was defensive, the government's use of force was offensive (in both senses!). We can start with the fact that the ancestors of these Mohawks had already been forced off of their land where the city of Montreal now is, as the documentary outlines. Then, their reserve lands were unlawfully expropriated by the town of Oka. There is really no moral equivalence here between their actions and those of soldiers acting to assert an unjust status quo.

    Emily, 28 Jul 2020
  • sixam

    An objective filmmaker would have investigated how the so-called "warriors" obtained their guns. Unfortunately, Ms. Obamsawin prefers to ignore that aspect. I agree the Mohawks have a legitimate grievance, and it would be utterly shameful for that sacred site to be desecrated by a useless golf course. That said, the "warriors" should not be presented as morally superior. I feel awful for the family of the dead officer whose murderers (correct me if I'm wrong) were never brought to justice.

    sixam, 27 Jul 2020
  • Antonio

    This documentary helped me to learn about what Indigenous had to do in order to protect their land. The film also furthered my knowledge on the actions that the government did to Indigenous culture. Overall, the film was very educational and I enjoyed it. #Next150 #IndigenousFilm

    Antonio, 18 Dec 2018
  • Antonio

    This documentary helped me to learn about what Indigenous had to do in order to protect their land. The film also furthered my knowledge on the actions that the government did to Indigenous culture. Overall, the film was very educational and I enjoyed it. #Next150 #IndigenousFilm

    Antonio, 18 Dec 2018
  • charlene

    Thank you Alanis, I was 33 years old when this took place. I consider it to be living history and very educational. I look forward to watching more of your work.

    charlene, 16 Apr 2017
  • MatthewD

    Heart breaking to say the least my spirit as warrior was saddened but awakened even more than ever before!!

    MatthewD, 24 Nov 2016
  • rubyjean46

    Watching this film makes me ashamed to be white.

    rubyjean46, 2 May 2014
  • Noor

    such a courage, such a spirit, such a unity, and strenght never seen it before. i salute the native people and i pray for them and for humanity to save us from evil's eye.

    Noor, 8 Dec 2012
  • thewrathofkhanh

    Such a powerful film! A testament to the strength of the human spirit! Long live the Resistance!

    thewrathofkhanh, 31 Mar 2012
  • jojoblueeyes

    I am shocked and horrified of the treatment of the Natives by the military. I can't believe this happened in this day and age especially in Canada. The film really opened my eyes. It really saddens me to be a white person.

    jojoblueeyes, 2 Mar 2012
  • inte

    As an Uyghur, I did not expect this happen in a country like Canada. I'm shocked by this film and the current issues with Native Rights. I hope the Natives will not stop fighting for their rights.

    inte, 3 Feb 2012
  • Pipestone

    Alanis Obomswain is a Modern day Storyteller. The true stories of the unjust treatment is not taught in our schools, not in our History books,and our Governments exceed Hitler in Human Rights Abuse. Each day we must be thankful for the fighting Warrior Spirit Grandfather has instilled in us! It is through the media as Alanis proves up that we are capable of change! Aho Alanis for your Warrior Spirit!

    Pipestone, 30 Apr 2011
  • KrashCoarse

    I shared a link to this film and a friend noted that subtitles and audio description available for the French version, but not the English one. Any chance we could get them? This film needs more exposure :)

    KrashCoarse, 15 Apr 2011
  • Kevin

    As with much of first nations' history, I was ashamed to see the persistance of the greed brought by the European visitors in Columbus's time. The foreign power holders continue the assimilation process (cultural and racial). Canada has not honoured all of its agreements with its first nations allies. In the face of such pressures, many first nations throughout the 'new world continents' have managed survival. They are to be admired for their courage.

    Kevin, 17 Mar 2011
  • mtricks

    I remember one of the commentators on CBC interviewing a bystander who said "We're all natives now. If they can do this here they can do it anywhere." Twenty years later they did the same to the citizens of Toronto at the G20.

    mtricks, 3 Jan 2011
  • Gman

    This is documentary filmmaking at its best.

    Gman, 11 Jul 2010
  • 0hawkeyes0

    Wow... Its a treasure to have this film accessible. a tool which we can draw strength from to open up all the possibilities for a brighter future for everything on this planet,

    0hawkeyes0, 5 Feb 2010

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