Carr Sappier and Grace Mathisen

SFU film students Carr Sappier and Grace Mathisen have founded the Skoden Indigenous Film Festival, which took place June 1 at SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts.

The festival presented 18 short films by B.C.-based Indigenous filmmakers and talent.

“The idea for the festival came out of us talking about what we could do to build a stronger Indigenous presence at SFU and amplify the voices of Indigenous people in our community,” explain Sappier and Mathisen.

“We wanted to create a platform that supported Indigenous filmmakers who were telling their stories the way they wanted to tell them.”

Both students are in their fourth year. Sappier is a two-spirited filmmaker who has deep roots in the Wolastoqew community of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick. Sappier’s passion for filmmaking stems from an aspiration to decolonize the screen and offer an alternative perspective of Wolastoqiyik storytelling. Mathisen’s work explores psychology, folklore and family.

The two met in their first year at SFU and became close friends. They see their Indigenous/settler partnership as a representative microcosm of what reconciliation can look like and say, “We were proactive in our reconciliation while planning this festival.”

They organized the event while balancing coursework and their final film projects. After receiving more than 800 submissions from across the globe, they chose 18 films representing the diverse perspectives of B.C.’s Indigenous artists.

The festival features both new filmmakers, including some local and northern Grade 12 students, and well-established artists such as Lisa Jackson (Savage)Amanda Strong (Biidaaban), Dana Claxton (Her Suger is?), Jules Arita Koostachin (OChiSkwaCho), and Trevor Mack (Clouds of Autumn. The festival’s two programs present common themes of identity, Indigenous experience, and resilience.

The screenings were followed by an award ceremony to recognize the judges’ choice for best short, to announce the audience favourite, and to present the Trickster Award to the most innovative filmmaker who bucks conventions and redefines style.

Every aspect of the festival holds cultural meaning. For example, “Skoden” is the slang word that Indigenous communities from coast to coast to coast use to mean “let's go then.” Similarly, the title of the screenings, “Stoodis,” is slang for “let’s do this.” The festival logo, featuring two coyotes was drawn by Sappier’s sister and represents the festival’s spirit of being unique and breaking boundaries.

Video courtesy of APTN National News.