Catching up is a series of interviews showcasing various filmmakers based in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in Treaty 1 territory.
While working as the Archive Assistant for the Winnipeg Film Group, I have been able to look through the films that have been highlighted in the past. Now I want to make room for new artists, to create different avenues of archiving in order to make these new filmmakers’ practices and stories more accessible to the public. This is especially important during these times of isolation when we are unable to physically attend events. I want to bring attention to local filmmakers – who they are, what their focus is and what they’ve been up to during this last year. – Mahlet Cuff
Sonya Ballantyne is a Swampy Cree writer and filmmaker originally from Misipawistik Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. Her work uses non-traditional genres such as horror, sci-fi, and fantasy and focuses on Indigenous women and girls. She won the RBC Emerging Filmmaker Competition at the 2014 Gimli Film Festival.
She ventured into filmmaking not because of an interest in directing but because of an interest in storytelling. She wanted to write the stories that would be portrayed on screen. She strongly believes in making sure that those stories stay true to their original narrative.
“I got into filmmaking because of writing. In film school, I noticed how much control the director had over the writer and I didn’t want anyone changing my stories. I still feel more like a writer but I will do the directing just to make sure the message isn’t changed.”
Ballantyne is inspired by other filmmakers that don’t stay in one genre but expand their artistry into many. Music often inspires her writing.
“I’m really inspired by Guillermo Del Toro and aspire to have the sort of career he has with the wide mix of genres he works in. I’m also a huge fan of the band U2.”
Themes from fantasy, sci-fi, and supernatural fiction influence her film making, so it would seem like the perfect pairing when she says “I would love to collaborate with Stephen King. I’ve always wanted to know what happened to the tribe who originally settled the area near the burial ground in Pet Cemetery and I would love to tell that story with him.”
During quarantine she’s been watching coming of age stories (Blinded by the Light), horror films (The Invisible Man) and action movies (Birds of Prey).
You can find Sonya Ballantyne’s work in the Winnipeg Film Group Catalogue, including her documentary “Nosisim” and the animated film “Crash Site.” Ballantyne has written an episode for the show “Wolf Joe” called “As the crow flies” and that will be available on TVO Kids.
As well as learn more about her on Sonya’s website!
Mahlet Cuff is the Archive Assistant at the Winnipeg Film group, a role made possible through our Archive/Counter Archive Case Study, a project of York University
Catching Up Logo by Shaneela Boodoo
Still from Crash Site (2015)
Head shot by Mary Vallarta