A Message from the Festival Director ...
The inspiration for this festival comes from places far away and very near.

One inspiration comes from Seattle, where two years ago my son and I were surfing past the "Classic Movie" channel and chanced on Rose Marie. What a strange film! Not only is there this goofy Mounty, Nelson Eddie, practically stalking Jeanette MacDonald, and a surprising appearance of Jimmy Stewart as the "Brother Gone Wrong" but the thing that really struck me was the stunningly awful Corn Festival, a colourful Hollywood Aboriginal moment.

A corn festival in the Rockies? Totems in the Rockies, with Aztec-looking figures. A dance number involving at the climax a twelve foot in diameter drum rolled in on its side and flopped down on the fire as a dance platform for the now fevered dancers to act out their revue to the music of a big band with horns whipping up a tune. It's a hybrid of everything thought to be Aboriginal in the day. All that and a racial/ageist slur thrown in for good measure.

I thought of all the cool films I've shown that are authentic voices of First Nations people and "wouldn't it be fun to counterpoint some of those Ďrealí film images against this Hollywood representation?" I've been waiting my moment.

But perhaps the inspiration for this festival actually goes back further, to 1970 when, as a young whippersnapper, I got a job as cook-deckhand on the Stuart Post, a Fisheries Canada patrol boat stationed in Alert Bay. In that little town I drank my first beer, saw a lot more being drunk, saw both the natural beauty of the land and richness of the traditions and the problems of the community. When I got back to Victoria I became enthralled with Curtis' "North American Indian" Volume 10 "The Kwakiutl" studying one of the original editions in the museum archives, its absorbing ethnographic descriptions and fabulous images.
(see Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian).

Several years later, I returned to Alert Bay and the Port Hardy area as a photographer on a project to capture images of Native life. Named "Today's Ancestors", an LIP Project, (remember those?) it was a well-meaning but perhaps naive concept. The images were meant to go to the UBC Museum of Anthropology but they seem to have gone adrift. Another White Guy's broken promise. I made a trip back to Alert Bay at the end of the three month project to take the images back to the community. On that visit, my cameras were stolen and that ended my photography career. I was left only with the contact sheets and my curiosity of what became of the many children in those images.

My interest in Native culture and visual arts never ended, but laid dormant. Then nine years ago I discovered this theatre while I was a patient upstairs and soon after I began showing films, always with an interest to include First Nations films of merit. Iíve always been surprised to find excellent films that have been seen by so few people, including Aboriginal people in Victoria.

This is another ambition for this festival, to share the films that I love with more people. Itís a first First Nations Film Festival for Movie Monday. Faced with many divisive issues, I want to bring people together as one audience to share the visions of First Nationís communities and filmmakers.

That's the background. Now it's happening. I'm thrilled to have met all the guests that are coming and to share them with you. It's a demonstration again of how film brings ideas and people together.
Bruce Saunders

The festival director as photographer in Alert Bay, circa 1973, taken by one of my 'subjects'. I was working on a well-meaning project called 'Today's Ancestors' to document Native culture. The photos were meant to be stored for the communities in perpetuity at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, but alas, another broken promise as they are missing now.