Kamloops Film Society brings back Indigenous Film Festival after last year’s success

Paramount Theatre hosts the 2nd Annual Stseptékwles re Sk’elép (Coyote Stories)

The 2nd annual Indigenous Film Festival will be held at the Paramount Theatre located in Downtown Kamloops on Oct. 12, 13 and 14. This project is brought by The Kamloops Film Society & Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc. Featuring multiple feature films and special events throughout the weekend.

It was first launched in the fall of 2022. Guided by an all-Indigenous Committee, the festival is now an annual staple of the film society’s offerings. According to Radhika Tabrez, the Operations Manager of KFS, having the committee brought a wealth of information and community involvement. Tabrez was involved in the organization for last year’s festival, but this year she’s taken over as festival coordinator as well.

There will be five films shown throughout the weekend, opening with Marie Clements’s ‘Bones of Crows’ telling the story of Cree code talker Aline Spears who survives her traumatic past in Canada’s residential school system and continues her family’s generational fight against systemic starvation, racism and sexual abuse. The festival will end with the Indigenous Family Shorts featuring various programs and will be free.

Quite a few factors came into play when selecting the films. “Our goal, of course, is to have something for each age demographic and something in every genre, there is always something for everyone,” Tabrez said.

As a special showing for Friday 13th, Paramount Theatre will be playing Jeff Barnaby’s ‘Rhymes for Young Ghouls.’ The film takes place in 1976 and follows the story of a Mi’gMaq teenager who plots revenge against the sadistic Indian agent who imprisoned her in a residential school where rape and abuse were common. Oct. 13 will also mark the one year anniversary of Barnaby’s passing. 

“The other reason to play ‘Rhymes for Young Ghouls’ was because the director, Jeff Barnaby, who’s a celebrated director and we’ve also played his other movies like ‘Blood Quantum’ last year, just recently passed away,” Tabrez said. 

This year’s festival goes beyond showcasing films, as other events will be happening. Some of the cast for ‘Bones of Crows’ will be joining the event in a discussion panel. Among other things, the panel will be focusing on Indigenous people in the film industry. 

Kenthen Thomas, a Secwepemc storyteller, will be joining the festival on Friday afternoon before the showing of ‘Rhymes for Young Ghouls’ for a storytelling session. On Saturday there will be a networking event for Indigenous artists. “Probably the first of its kind,” Tabrez said. The Artist Network will have a guest speaker to talk to the artists.

“We are ending the whole festival with a bang with a comedy show by Conway Kootenay, who’s a very famous Indigenous comedian. And we will be hosting him for our closing party, which is at 8 o’clock on the 14th of October.” Tabrez added. 

After months of work put into this festival, Tabrez is looking forward to people coming and enjoying themselves and people’s feedback later, or even while the festival is happening on social media. “If they’re loving it, we would love for them to spread the word and give us more constructive feedback so we can make future festivals stronger. Our purpose here at the Film Society is to make sure people have a great time.” 

Tickets to the films and events can be found online at the Kamloops Film Festival website and doors open 30 minutes before screenings.