Indigenous film festival starts today in Saskatoon

Wednesday, June 5th, 2024 8:54am


Image Caption

Tristin Greyeyes. Photo by Jules Koostachin
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Ācimowin Film Festival, Saskatchewan's only Indigenous film festival, begins today, June 5, in Saskatoon, and continues until June 8. A total of 80 films will be screened at the event. Ācimowin means story in the Cree language.

Tristin Greyeyes, an independent filmmaker who is a member of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, organized this week’s festival. It pays tribute to her friend, the late Trudy Stewart, who had organized Mispon, the first Indigenous film festival in the province, held in Regina, with Janine Windolph. That festival ended in 2016. Stewart died in 2019.

“I wanted to pay homage to her.”

Windolph is also part of the Ācimowin Film Festival. Her new documentary, titled Our Maternal Home, will screen at the festival on June 8.

The film, a National Film Board of Canada production, features Windolph venturing from Saskatchewan to Quebec with her two children and her younger sister as they trace their family history to Waswanipi, a Cree First Nation.

Windolph said Our Maternal Home was made because her teenage son had requested to go to Quebec to meet family members.

“Instead of a traditional script and shot list, we worked with family and community members in Waswanipi to curate a series of activities,” Windolph said. “Then we all went on the journey of experiencing those activities together.”

The film includes some first-time meetings.

“At the beginning of the film, we witness my children meeting their great auntie Irene for the first time, who is like another kokum to them, and she then acts as our guide, bringing us through these activities,” Windolph said. “In this way she is also contributing to the content and the experience of the film.”

The award-winning film Tautuktavuk (What We See) will also be screened on June 7 at the Ācimowin Film Festival.

This film is co-directed by Lucy Tulugarjuk and Carol Kunnuk. It about a pair of sisters from Nunavut, Uyarak and Saqpinak.

After experiencing domestic abuse, Uyarak flees her territory and goes to Montreal. But once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, lockdowns prevented her from returning home.

ZOOM calls with Saqpinak, who ends up revealing she has also been a domestic abuse victim, helps both sisters heal.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) won the Amplify Voices Award for Best BIPOC Canadian First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival last September. It also won the Sun Jury Award, which recognized outstanding work regardless of its length or genre, at the imagineNATIVE festival in Toronto last October.

Tautuktavuk (What We See) also received international recognition, winning an award at a festival in Sweden this past December.

As for Greyeyes, she’s thrilled she’s been able to bring an Indigenous film festival back to her home province. Her First Nation is located about 100 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

“I’m grateful that it’s happening,” Greyeyes said. “Even if it’s not big, I’m glad that we did this.”

Greyeyes said she would like to see the festival continue.

“We’ll see if funding comes and if it will be annual or biannual,” she said.

Greyeyes said it cost about $130,000 to put on this year’s festival. Organizers were able to stage the event in large part because the Canada Council for the Arts provided about $100,000 in funding.

“Other funders also came in with other small sponsorships,” Greyeyes said.

Greyeyes attended Capilano University in North Vancouver. She earned a diploma through the Indigenous digital filmmaking program. And then in 2021 she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in motion picture arts.

More information about the Ācimowin Film Festival is available at

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.