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 Amnesty staff 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 website, 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 have 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 Indigenous stories happening outside of what was going on in my own backyard.
Freedom Drum initially premiered at the 2007 One World Film Festival. Ten years later, it returned to the big screen in Ottawa for a special 10th-anniversary screening with Amnesty International Canada on the opening night of the 28th Annual One World Film Festival.
Status: Completed; Funding: Amnesty International Canada