Documentary Short: A Declaration and a Drum

The backstory

There are easier subjects to pick for the topic of your first short film than the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This I know.

Amnesty International Canada had standing at Part II of the Ipperwash Inquiry, so in 2006 I found myself bumping into them during some of the witness testimony in Forest, Ontario. They asked me to come to Ottawa to film during a 24-hour vigil in support of the Declaration, which was about to go to a General Assembly vote at the UN within days. Amnesty was only after a few minutes of footage to add to their Web site, but after filming for almost 24 hours straight at the vigil, I found I had enough of a story arc to create a short film from the footage.

It felt great to get something I’d shot and edited myself under my belt. However, the experience of making Freedom Drum resulted in something I wasn’t expecting – it opened my eyes for the first time to the larger activist community. It also contributed in a substantial way to my interest in First Nations stories happening outside of what was going on in my own backyard.

Project: Freedom Drum
Client: Amnesty International Canada


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