Métis/Algonquin filmmaker Michelle Latimer premiered her documentary “Inconvenient Indian”, based on Thomas King’s award-winning book, at the Toronto International Film Festival on Saturday.
The Canadian Screen Award nominee spoke with ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante about the making of the film and how she’s hoping it will be used as an educational tool in schools across the country and possibly North America. “It could definitely happen,” Latimer explained. “It’s exciting to think that this could be used for an educational purpose.”
Latimer said she thinks if she “had been shown this film as a young person, when I was 8-years-old, it would’ve probably changed how I moved into my future.”
She opened up about the unknown Indigenous history, that is missing from school history books. “I was not taught in formal education… the history of residential schools,” she revealed. “It was only later in life that I saw that being talked about on a wider scale. And when you see that archival footage from that time period it is undeniable.”
Latimer recalled growing up in Northwestern Ontario, when she witnessed her friend having rocks thrown at him while being called racist names in elementary school. She said she “ran inside to the teacher, saying ‘they can’t do that, they can’t do that.'”
She said she was often on the receiving end of “offhanded, disgusting comments,” because she was light-skinned, that made her feel like she didn’t fit in anywhere. Latimer explained how “those kinds of experiences formulate how you move forward as an artist. Certainly being on the frontlines at Standing Rock did that as well, but that’s a more recent experience.”
The artist told Carlos about the moving response she’s gotten on the doc from those close to her. “A number of my friends have shown the film to their… young children and their comments are so inspiring,” she said.
“We should really be looking at how to make some deep change as we move forward,” she added. “I feel hopeful… that maybe there’s a brighter future for us all to move into, where there’s more space for other voices.”
Author King narrates the documentary, bringing his brilliant pages to the screen, helping to shatter the misconceptions we have been taught about Indigenous history through Hollywood movies.
“It is essential we have people from our communities telling our stories,” Latimer said.
The director further explained the message of hope and activism in the film: “The path we walk with our ancestors… that is in the now. And how we act now, will create the future we move into.”