In good company after last week’s episode with Marlene director Wendy Hill-Tout, and just in time for both Canadian Film Day on April 20 and this year’s edition of the Hot Docs documentary film festival starting on April 28, this week, we’re talking to a documentary filmmaker. You know about the COVID-19 pandemic, but another pandemic has been affected people a lot longer. This is one of those stories.
This week’s episode of the podcast features actor and filmmaker Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. Her recent documentary, Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy, is a homecoming of sorts as she visits the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, her people, who have been hit hard by the overdose crisis. It’s also a personal story because one of the first responders in Kainai is Tailfeathers’ own mother.
Kímmapiiyipitssini, which is a Blackfoot word meaning “giving kindness to others”, is a story about our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation and the generational trauma of our First Nations people. It’s also a story familiar to every community in Canada regardless of location or ethnicity. It’s an exhaustive case study of the systemic, cultural and governmental barriers thrown up to fight drug addition and how community leaders have had to be savvy and think outside the box in order to make an impact.
This interview with Tailfeathers, which is a longer version of one that was played last fall on End Credits, covers the making of Kímmapiiyipitssini, how the director had to separate personal and professional commitments, and working with her mom as her film’s main character. She also discusses the difficulties in rephrasing addiction as a health crisis, whether her film represents an inflection point with the crisis, and the recent mass cultural embrace of Indigenous stories, both real and imagined.
So let’s talk about the meaning of empathy on this week’s Guelph Politicast!
Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy is now streaming on the subscription version of the National Film Board’s site, but if you’re a student or teacher in either of the two local school boards in the region you already have free access. You can also see Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers work as an actor in Blood Quantum and Night Raiders, and you can stream both those movies on Crave.
Also, when you subscribe to the Guelph Politicast channel and you will also get an episode of Open Sources Guelph every Monday, and an episode of End Credits every Friday.
Image coutresy of the National Film Board.