CREE SF FILMMAKER DANIS GOULET ON MAKING WAKENING (MF GALAXY 162)
HOW TO MAKE $100,000 LOOK LIKE $1 MILLION ONSCREEN, CLASSICAL CREE MYTHOLOGY IN AN ANTI-COLONIAL SF TALE
- For ages, inside and outside fan
circles, the stereotype was that Africans and Indigenous people don’t
like science fiction. That’s a bizarre myth. After all, because both
science fiction and fantasy offer the spirit and the intellect the
chance to remake the world. For peoples who remember the historical
destruction of their own worlds and live under oppression, escape
stories offer indispensable hope—the dream that deliverance is possible.
And when they offer the intellect the means to plan utopia, or at least
a new-topia, they’re even more powerful.
That yearning helps explain the extraordinary success of Black Panther, and the promise offered by award-winning science fiction filmmakers such as my guest today, Danis Goulet. She’s a Cree-Metis filmmaker from LaRonge, Saskatchewan. She’s an alumna of the National Screen Institute's Drama Prize Program in Canada and the TIFF Talent lab. Her social realist and science fiction films and virtual reality work have gone to the Toronto International Film Festival, Sundance, and imagineNATIVE. Her VR includes The Hunt, and her films include the dramas Barefoot and Wapawekka, and the post-apocalyptic Wakening.
That stunning 2013 short film imagines a future Toronto crushed under an unknown hypertechnological occupation. And engaging their ancient conflict at doomsday are two titans of Cree mythology: Weesagichak, the genderless shapeshifter from the stars, and Weetigo, the ruthless cannibal spirit of insatiable hunger.
On March 15, 2018, Danis Goulet spoke with me by Skype from her home in Toronto. We discussed:
- Her early history as a fan girl and a young filmmaker
- Her move into art house cinema and then into global Indigenous film
- Why science fiction matters so much, especially to oppressed and occupied people
- The political significance of the immortals Weesagichak and Weetigo
- How she made her stunning film Wakening,
- And how on a budget of $100,000, she made it look like millions
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