A virtual reality experience is on its way to an international stage at the Sundance Film Festival in the United States
This is not a ceremony is a National Film Board of Canada VR experience directed by Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon), from the Piikani Nation in Alberta who now live on Westbank First Nation land.
“Going to Sundance has been a lifelong dream,” Ahnahktsipiitaa said.
The experimental documentary immerses audiences in the story through stunning cutscenes.
“In many Indigenous nations, including the Blackfoot Confederacy and the Piikani Nation, we have a tradition of witnessing where the witness becomes accountable to the community,” Ahnahktsipiitaa said.
“I really wanted to take that idea and infuse it into this piece.”
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The stories of two Aboriginal men are shared; Adam North Peigan who is president of the Sixties Scoop Indigenous Society of Alberta and a victim of The Sixties Scoop and his travels as an adopted child, and Brian Sinclair, who died at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Center on September 21, 2008.
“When you just look at Brian Sinclair’s story, you say, ‘How does this happen? “How does a man die of a bladder infection that is completely treatable in hospital after 34 hours?” so you wonder how it happens, but you also of course think it happened because as Indigenous people we know the stories too well,” Ahnahktsipiitaa said.
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The buffalo spirit, Inii, also guides viewers through the story.
“I’m from Piikani and Piikani is also famous for having the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, bison is extremely important to us, it’s extremely important to the Blackfoot people, so we wanted to include bison,” Ahnahktsipiitaa said. .
“It was such an important part of the story for us and for me and I think it’s really amazing. We used a lot of style photos that I had taken of the buffalo jump. We used models 3D to create the buffalo and I think it’s amazing.
This is not a ceremony screens at the Sundance Film Festival virtually on January 20 and will be available until January 30. For more information, visit www.festival.sundance.org
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