On a hot July day in 1990, an historic confrontation propelled Indigenous issues in Kanehsatake and the village of Oka, Québec, into the international spotlight and into the Canadian conscience. Director Alanis Obomsawin endured 78 nerve-wracking days and nights filming the armed stand-off between the Mohawks, the Québec police and the Canadian army. A powerful feature-documentary emerges that takes you right into the action of an age-old Indigenous struggle. The result is a portrait of the people behind the barricades, providing insight into the Mohawks' unyelding determination to protect their land.
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