The Stolen Sisters Digital Initiative (SSDI) exhibit starts today as part of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. SSDI is an artistic commission of four one-minute digital works made by award-winning Canadian Indigenous filmmakers.
The films celebrate and honour Indigenous women and shed light on the hundreds of unsolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.
Jackson’s Snare is a performance-piece that captures the brutality of violence against Aboriginal women. According to Jackson, the idea for Snare just popped into her head and she ran with it. We asked her what were some of the challenges in making a one-minute silent project.
Still from Snare. Photo by Michael Labre.
“Because the idea was fairly contained, it was all achievable from a story perspective and it was really doable in a minute and in a silent format. On the execution side, it was a lot of work, in particular the task of actually hanging the women upside down. We didn’t do visual effects to hang them upside down, we actually hung them upside down. That required stunt people and rigging. It was intense. I was also aware that I had to take care of their physical safety and their emotional safety as well. Physically it just took a lot of time to get them up there and I could only hang them for a minute and a half at a time. Just coordinating everything to fit in those one minute increments of shooting time was challenging,” explained Jackson.
According to Jackson, only one of the women in Snare is a professional actor. The rest were chosen from an audition of over 45 women who have been touched in some way by the issue.
“Once you get into aboriginal experience, these are very shared histories, most if not all of these women have personal connections to the issues so they were bringing all of that to their performance,” said Jackson. “There was a great feeling of contribution amongst the cast and crew.”
The cast of Snare smudging sweetgrass to begin the shoot day. Photo by Michael Labre.
“People were coming from far away. Two of the women in the film are actually from a reserve in Washington. Once the word got around that this film was happening, there was a huge amount of community help to get people to come out to the audition,” said Jackson. “I really like these women. They have incredibly compelling faces and they were a joy to have on set. Even though it was sort of a performance piece, it felt grounded. People took the issue that it was based on seriously.”
Director Lisa Jackson listens to Director of Photography Andrew Coppin. Photo by Michael Labre.
Jackson got into filmmaking through her love of research.
“I really enjoy the research area, specifically in theme or subjects that I’m interested in. I just dig in, in a big way to find out who the characters are, what the background is, what the context is, what the story is and what the settings are. I just fill my mind with all of that stuff and usually a story or theme emerges from that,” explained Jackson.
She explains her creative process as something that changes with every project. She says almost everything she does is based in a “documentary instinct” with a commentary on social issues.
“I’ve worked on so many different types of films; for Snare it was completely based on images. I just get the pictures coming to my head and a mood. Then there’s the development of the idea and trying to execute it.”
Snare will screen on more than 300 Pattison Onestop subway platform screens across Toronto and at the TIFF Bell Lightbox leading up to and during the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival from October 15 – 21, 2012.
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