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Give Me the Backstory: Get to Know Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie, the Filmmakers Behind Sugarcane

19/04/2024

By Lucy Spicer

One of the most exciting things about the Sundance Film Festival is having a front-row seat for the bright future of independent filmmaking. While we can learn a lot about the filmmakers from the 2024 Sundance Film Festival through the art that these storytellers share with us, there's always more we can learn about them as people. This year, we decided to get to the bottom of those artistic wells with our ongoing series: Give Me the Backstory!

In 2021, news stories about the presence of suspected children's graves on Canadian Indian residential school property made international headlines and caught the attention of documentary filmmaker Emily Kassie. I felt a pull in my gut, recalls Kassie. I had reported on mass atrocities around the world but had never turned my lens on my own country. Kassie began looking into First Nations who were in the process of getting access to other possible grave sites. I reached out to my old friend and colleague Julian (we sat next to each other at our first reporting jobs). What I didn't know is the search I secured access to following at St. Joseph's Mission was the school where Julian's family attended and where his father was born.

Kassie's collaboration with Julian Brave NoiseCat would bring about Sugarcane, a documentary that reckons with the intergenerational trauma caused by the residential school system, a system rife with abuse that separated Indigenous children from their families and their cultures. The film premiered in the U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, where Kassie and NoiseCat would go on to win the U.S. Documentary Directing Award.

I'm not sure I would have ever made a movie if Emily hadn't called me after news of a discovery of potential graves at the Kamloops Indian Residential School broke, says writer and activist - and now filmmaker - NoiseCat. I'm so grateful she did because this film changed my life.

Get more insight into the co-directors below, including why filmmaking is important to them and the reason it's vital to get projects like Sugarcane out into the world now.
LINK: https://www.sundance.org/blogs/give-me-the-backstory-get-to-know-julia...
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