NFB withdraws ‘Inconvenient Indian’ from Sundance Film Festival and its cast

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The National Film Board is withdrawing Michelle Latimer’s documentary “Inconvenient Indian” from distribution and from its upcoming screening at the Sundance Film Festival.

The move comes after the accuracy of the filmmaker’s Indigenous identity was called into question last week.

In a statement Tuesday, the NFB said it had conversations with the Indigenous participants who took part in the documentary, its Indigenous advisory group and producer Jesse Wente.

The organization said it would continue a dialogue over the coming weeks and months with indigenous communities to “explore a responsible path for film,” which is based on the award-winning book by Thomas King.

Latimer had previously said she was of Algonquin, Métis and French descent, from the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg and Maniwaki region of Quebec, but a CBC investigation last week disputed those claims and raised questions about her self- identification.

The filmmaker has since said she ‘made a mistake’ in naming Kitigan Zibi as her family’s community before verifying the link. In a statement, she said she has contacted elders and historians in the community for advice and verification.

On Monday, Latimer resigned as director of “Trickster,” the native CBC-TV series she co-created.

“I support who I am and my family history, but I also understand what I’m being asked,” Latimer said in a Facebook post explaining her resignation from the show, which tells the story of a teenage girl. from Kitimat, BC, who discovers he has magical powers passed down from generation to generation.

The NFB is among Canadian film institutions that provide financial support to Indigenous-led projects responding to controversy, saying it is committed to following protocols developed by imagineNATIVE and the Bureau of Indigenous Screens.

“Indigenous stories must be told by Indigenous creators,” the NFB said in its press release Tuesday.

“Inconvenient Indian” was a smash hit at the Toronto International Film Festival in September where it won two of the top awards.

The film was due for release in Canada in 2021 and was due to screen at Sundance in January.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 22, 2020.

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