Canadian Indigenous Sci-Fi Thriller ‘Night Raiders’ Breaks Records, Shows Impact of Colonization on Indigenous Families

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Canadians now have the chance to watch Danis Goulet’s brilliant and hard-hitting film, Raiders of the night (executive produced by Taika Waititi), the largest production budget ever for an Indigenous film in Canada with the record for the largest theatrical opening for a Canadian Indigenous filmmaker, opening Friday in 80 locations across the country .

The film is an Indigenous sci-fi thriller set in 2043. The children are state property, and Cree mother Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) is desperate to protect her daughter Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) by joining a vigilante group to infiltrate Emerson’s public schools to retrieve these children.

Goulet, Raiders of the night screenwriter and director, was particularly influenced by the Idle No More movement, which began in November 2012, to protest against the Canadian government’s dismantling of environmental protection laws, protecting land and water.

As for the sci-fi thriller genre, Raiders of the night follows Goulet’s 2013 short film Awakening, which was also set in a dystopian future.

“Getting into the genre opened up so many possibilities to me, as a storyteller, that I just felt compelled to stay in that space,” the filmmaker said. Yahoo Canada. “All of my work explores the impact of colonization on Indigenous families. “

“One of the greatest systems in place to fracture and erase Indigenous cultures was the residential school system, which was in place for seven generations of Indigenous families. I really wanted to talk about it because I felt like it was not part of the conversation nationwide, as it needed to be. “

Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) and Niska (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) in “Night Raiders”, directed by Danis Goulet. (Elevation images)

“We are fighting so that future generations do not have to be so resilient”

While Raiders of the night Tackling real policies that have been inflicted on Indigenous peoples in Canada, including the residential school system that has torn apart Indigenous families, the filmmaker said bringing these issues into genre cinema offered a “new entry point ”to understand these policies.

“It’s so easy to get tired because it’s such a hard thing to go through and I think we shouldn’t underestimate how deep it is and how much of a process it is to understand the truth. “said Goulet. “I think we are still in this process.”

“For me, the genre just offered a way in, that invites the audience in, and I hope that by telling the story, they understand the impact, the real impact on human beings and what to take away when families are fractured. . “

Goulet was also inspired by the “resilience” of indigenous communities, especially the youth and women of these communities. But it was actually an interview the filmmaker was watching with a youngster who said he was “fed up with having to be resilient” that really resonated with Goulet.

“We are fighting so that future generations do not have to be as resilient as those of the past had to be and in a way this has been reflected in history,” she said. . “Niska has just hardened herself by her resilience, she has been living in survival mode for so long and her protection has in fact meant that Waseese, her daughter, is able to have an opening to the world through the ferocity of the protection of his mother.

It’s our hope that we don’t have to be so resilient, as much as I want to celebrate how strong people have been.Danis Goulet

Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) and Director & # x00201d; (Suzanne Cyr) in

Waseese (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart) and Headmistress ”(Suzanne Cyr) in“ Night Raiders ”, directed by Danis Goulet. (Christos Kalohoridis / Elevation images)

“Beautiful spirit of collaboration between indigenous peoples”

For the star of the film Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blood quantum, The body remembers when the world opened up), she was excited to work on a project with Goulet, her friend and mentor, but also felt a “huge responsibility” to do justice to Goulet’s story.

“To me, she represents so many Indigenous women that I know within our communities and I wanted to honor their experiences in the best possible way,” said Tailfeathers. “So it was a huge undertaking and responsibility, and I just felt like it was a story that our communities needed.”

“[Goulet] gave me this massive story for Niska. She built the whole history of the world we existed in, there was this timeline that went back 40 years or more, then 40 years into the future. I felt like she welcomed me into this world that she built in a way that I hadn’t really experienced with any other director.

Regarding the collaboration with Goulet, Tailfeathers added that she also has the option of forming a relationship with Brooklyn Letexier-Hart (Burden of truth), who plays Niska’s daughter Waseese, creating a “sense of security and comfort” for them to work together.

“There was also this really powerful aspect of being a co-production with Canada and New Zealand and so we had all of these Maori involved,” Tailfeathers said. “There was this very beautiful spirit of collaboration between indigenous peoples in a creative capacity. “

“As an actor you have to go to these very dark places sometimes and Niska’s experiences are similar to mine, and I think a lot of native people, we can all relate to some level because of this story that we embody. I felt safe and supported in a very specific way being in Indigenous spaces. “

TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEPTEMBER 10: (LR) Tara Woodbury, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Danis Goulet and Violet Nelson attend the

TORONTO, ONTARIO – SEPTEMBER 10: (LR) Tara Woodbury, Brooklyn Letexier-Hart, Danis Goulet and Violet Nelson attend the “Night Raiders” premiere during the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 10, 2021 in Toronto, Ontario. (Photo by Emma McIntyre / SHJ2021 / Getty Images)

For director and screenwriter Goulet, the most important thing was to create a space where everyone on set felt “protected” to do the work.

“I know that all the actors bring their own lived experience to what they do and it’s difficult, but I think in an indigenous context and in the face of something that has had such a profound impact on our communities, the protection is the most important thing, “she explained.

For example, the Indigenous Screen Office funded a mentorship program, which allowed the production to have a greater Indigenous presence on set.

“A few days before the shoot I had a meeting with all the mentees who were hired as part of it and I just said, ‘Thank you, your presence here is going to help me do what I’m doing. have to do “,” Shared bottleneck.

“No one wants to go into these spaces and be the only one and it is this collective spirit, I think, that gave us all the courage to do the work that we had to do. But it’s so important that you can just stand behind people’s backs and say, ‘I’m right here,’ and also have cultural practices built into what we’re doing, so that support is there, if any. one needs it. “


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