Local First Nation filmmaker receives international exposure

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Jeremy Wamiss works with wood shavings at his animation station during a filmmaking workshop at Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre in 2015. His film, Kamx’id, has been selected by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) for inclusion in the 2017 Native Cinema Showcase this August at the New Mexico History Museum Theater in Santa Fe.
Photo by Lisa g. Nielsen

By Trish Weatherall

Published in the North Island Eagle newspaper June 16, 2017

A local graduate is receiving international exposure for his animated film short. Jeremy Wamiss’ film, Kamx`id (carving), was selected by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) for inclusion in the 2017 Native Cinema Showcase this August at the New Mexico History Museum Theater in Santa Fe.  Kamx’id, described as a meditation on carving, depicts an animated carver, with the wood shavings spelling out carving-related words in the local First Nation’s Kwak’wala language.

“I am very excited and hopeful for the future,” said Our World Language filmmaker and mentor, Lisa g. Nielsen of Vancouver. “Having Our World on the Smithsonian mind could mean that more youth-made films could be seen in the U.S.”

Wamiss, a painter, carver, and 2016 graduate of Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre at the Tsulquate Reserve in Port Hardy, created the stop-motion animated film as part of a week-long Our World Language workshop at the school in 2015.  

The Our World Language program brings filmmaking workshops to young people in remote BC and Yukon First Nation communities, and brings youth and elders together to pass on traditional First Language and culture.

“The program is a chance for young people to allow their own voice to come through,” said Our World Language filmmaker and mentor, Lisa g. Nielsen of Vancouver. “It allows them to understand that they can convey whatever interests them.”

Three Our World Language mentor film makers spent a week in Port Hardy in November 2015 for the workshop at Eke Me-Xi, and students’ films premiered Nov. 30, 2015 at the Elder Centre in the Tsulquate Reserve in Port Hardy.

Our World Language includes a group of professional filmmakers with an interest in contributing to reconciliation in an artful way. Its mandate is to work with First Nations communities to provide access to media arts training as a means of empowerment through artistic and cultural expression; and integrating First Nations language and culture into films as a way to heal the past, claim the present, and move forward into the future with pride of identity.

The organization and its programs are sponsored and supported by the National Film Board of Canada, Bite Size Media, Reel 2 Real, Canada Council for the Arts, and The Gwa’sala-Nakwaxda’xw Nations.

Wamiss’ film was also included in the Presence autochtone Montreal’s First People’s festival in August 2016, and in the Reel Youth Film Festival, as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival, in September 2016. 

“When a film gets noticed at one festival, it may inspire other festivals to screen it,” said Nielsen. “And it encourages ongoing support for the organization and program.

Kamx’id can be viewed online at: www.ourworldlanguage.com/2015/11/kamxid.html

Our World Language mentors will be in Alert Bay this September to hold a filmmaking workshop that will include two Eke Me-Xi student mentors, and will return to Eke Me-Xi for another filmmaking workshop in Spring 2018.

“This filmmaking activity, moving from story board to the final product is life changing for the students,” said Eke Me-Xi school Principal Jillian Walkus. “This will be the fourth workshop for students here. These experiences are supported by the Nation and provide unrivalled learning opportunities for our youth.”

Photo by Lisa g. Neilsen

PHOTO: by Lisa g. Nielsen

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Other Eke Me-Xi students have also received awards for the films they created in the program. The 2015 Cowichan Aboriginal Festival of Film and Art awarded Kelly Anderson Best Documentary for her film, Relocation; Mariah Walkus and Stephen George received Culture and Heritage awards for their films Language, and How We Sea; Roberta Williams received a Research award for It’s Up to You; Alex Heuman won Best Animation for One of Granny Lil’s Amazing Stories; Ricky Johnny received an Animation award for Fun; and Michael Regnier won Best Scripting for Pick a Path.

At the 2015 Reel 2 Real International Film Festival for Youth Kelly Anderson received an editing award for Relocation; Roberta Williams received the Jury Recognition Award for It’s Up to You; and Alex Heuman received the Jury Special Mention Award for One of Granny Lil’s Amazing Stories, as well as the 2015 First Prize in the 13-16 age category at the Nelson Youth Film Festival.