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Comedy and Humour in Indigenous Film and Video

1491s_Gilcrease_2016_SB (59 of 81)
Wednesday, August 9 / 7 pm
Curated and introduced by Jenny Western.

On The Richard Pryor Show in 1977, Oneida comedian Charlie Hill opened his routine with the following joke, “For so long you probably thought that Indians never had a sense of  humour… we never thought you were too funny either.” In truth, humour has long been a staple of Indigenous storytelling. In customary teachings, a trickster character often appears to challenge ideas and create mischief. For contemporary Indigenous filmmakers and video artists, humour and comedy are a great way to make light of a situation and also a valuable tool to open up a dialogue on difficult issues. Often comedic strategies are used to tackle difficult subjects like racism and stereotyping with a biting wit, or to approach tradition or taboo through satire. Audiences’ mindsets are challenged and their funny bones are tickled as the film’s punchline is cinematically delivered. —Jenny Western

Jenny Western is an independent curator, writer, educator, and mother living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is a member of the Brothertown Nation of Wisconsin and is of European, Oneida, and Stockbridge-Musee descent.

2 Spirit Introductory Special $19.99 / Dir. Thirza Cuthand, 2015, 5 min / Don’t worry if you are just coming out as a 2 Spirited person, we have just the special for you!

OK, Now What? / Dir. Jeff Bruyere, 2008, Canada, 2 min / A happy-go-lucky guy is out for an evening stroll when trouble finds him.

Bannock / Dir. Darryl Nepinak, 2006, Canada, 7 min / Darryl Nepinak documents his mother as she teaches him and shares stories of how she learned how to make Bannock. A step by step way of teaching others about what Bannock is and how to make it.

Going With The Flow / Dirs. Jaylene Strom & Winona Bearshield, 2016, Canada, 3 min / This collaborative work was made by Jaylene and Winona along with their mentor Jackie Traverse as an experimentation for their first film. It was inspired by the City of
Winnipeg and what surrounds them here, including pizza, indigenous artists, and Video Pool.

Dude / Dir. Willis Petti, Canada, 2004, 5 min / “Dude? Dude.”

Goldilocks tahnon Ohkwari (Goldilocks and the Bears) / Dir. Onkwawenna Kentyohkwa & Zoe Leigh Hopkins, 2015, Canada, 16 min / A comedic adaptation of the children’s classic, this version is more adult and entirely in the Mohawk language with the theme of colonization at the core.

SpongeBob SquarePants / Dir. Christiana Latham, 2011, Canada, 3 min / A bright, iridescent music video of Black Lodge Singers’ “SpongeBob SquarePants.”

Grumpy Old Man / Dir. Tristan & Dustin Craig, 2010, Canada, 0:30 min / A senior living in Legoland learns that life is short after he “grumps” one time too many.

Ahoy! Métis! / Dir. Marnie Parrell, 2005, Canada, 5 min / A “Canadian Heritage moment” where fact and fiction meld creating a history that questions what the present pretends to know.

Slapping Medicine Man / Dirs. 1491s, 2011, USA, 3 min / A super traditional Indigenous Medicine Man slaps around comedians Tito Ybarra, Dallas Goldtooth and Ryan Red Corn. The 1491s are an Indigenous comedy collective based in the wooded ghettos of Minnesota and buffalo grass of Oklahoma.

Crazy Horse Pawn Shop: Episode 2 (Indian Car)
Directed by Erica Marie Daniels
2014, Canada, 5:44 min
Produced by NCI FM
Featuring Leonard Sumner, Paul Rabliauskus, Karl Stone, Conway Ogemah The starving student, Paul, is at it again! This time bringing his starving cousin, Leonard, to Crazy Horse Pawn Shop (939 Notre Dame Ave) to try and sell his one of a kind “Indian Car”. They will find out soon enough that the car of their dreams may not be worth what they thought it to be.Leonard encompasses so much of how Indigenous humour can be used with such slyness and wit to make people laugh but to also subvert situations.



The Winnipeg Film Group is an artist-run education, production, exhibition and distribution centre committed to promoting the art of cinema.
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We’re located across the street from Old Market Square, on the 3rd floor of the Artspace building (just upstairs from our Cinematheque) at 100 Arthur Street at Bannatyne - one block west of Main Contact Us