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The 20th annu­al Win­nipeg Abo­rig­i­nal Film Fes­ti­val (WAFF) will open on Wednes­day, Novem­ber 24, with an award-win­ning new film from British Colum­bia and a theme that’s par­tic­u­lar­ly apt for 2021.

Por­traits From A Fire, the first fea­ture film from Indige­nous artist Trevor Mack, has been cho­sen for open­ing night. Show­time at the Cana­di­an Muse­um for Human Rights is 7 p.m. Por­traits From A Fire fol­lows an aspir­ing young film­mak­er at a B.C. First Nation as a fam­i­ly secret unrav­els. Declared Best Cana­di­an Fea­ture at this year’s Edmon­ton Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val, Por­traits was praised in the Globe and Mail as burst­ing with joy, humour and tenderness. 

Oth­er awards for Por­traits From A Fire’s direc­tor, who hails from Tsilhqot’in Nation, include the 2015 Imag­i­ne­NA­TIVE Film + Media Arts Fes­ti­val jury prize for Best Cana­di­an Short Dra­ma for Clouds of Autumn, as well as an Emerg­ing Film­mak­er Award at the 2021 Van­cou­ver Inter­na­tion­al Film Festival. 

We are so pleased to have this beau­ti­ful, fun­ny film by one of Canada’s most promis­ing young film­mak­ers play­ing at this year’s Win­nipeg Abo­rig­i­nal Film Fes­ti­val,” said Coleen Rajotte, Direc­tor of WAFF. Por­traits From A Fire is sure to be a crowd pleaser.”

Por­traits From A Fire star William Mag­nus Lulua will be in atten­dance for open­ing night and avail­able for media inter­views before the film’s screening. 

Fea­tured on WAFF 2021’s sec­ond night is Ste. Anne, a dra­ma set in Treaty 1 ter­ri­to­ry and writ­ten and direct­ed by Man­i­to­ba Métis visu­al artist Rhayne Ver­mette, who also stars. It won the Ampli­fy Voic­es Award for Best Cana­di­an Film at this year’s Toron­to Inter­na­tion­al Film Fes­ti­val, and a prize at the Indie Mem­phis Film Fes­ti­val last month. 

The festival’s full sched­ule will be released soon.

Every Child Mat­ters is the theme for open­ing night cer­e­monies at the Cana­di­an Muse­um for Human Rights, before the screen­ing of Por­traits From A Fire. WAFF has com­mis­sioned a song from coun­try artist Lucien Spence to pre­mière at the open­ing ceremonies.

The theme car­ries for­ward WAFF’s long his­to­ry of striv­ing for under­stand­ing and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion. Mak­ing every­one wel­come in the spir­it of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion was, in fact, a found­ing prin­ci­ple when WAFF began 20 years ago.

WAFF 2021, cel­e­brat­ing Indige­nous film and video from across Cana­da and around the world, is set for Novem­ber 24 – 30 online (with three in-per­son screen­ings). Show­times and tick­et infor­ma­tion are avail­able at waff​.ca and our Face­book page, face​book​.com/​a​b​o​r​i​g​i​n​a​l​f​i​l​mfest.