Canadian Women Film Directors Database
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Alanis Obomsawin

Countries: Canada / United States
Born: 1932

Films directed by Alanis Obomsawin

Quotes by Alanis Obomsawin

"Documentary film is the one place that our people can speak for themselves. I feel that the documentaries that I've been working on have been very valuable for the people, for our people to look at ourselves, at the situations, really facing it, and through that being able to make changes that really count for the future of our children to come."
-- Alanis Obomsawin (source)

"Racism and prejudice exist there [at the National Film Board] like anywhere else. My history at the Board has not been easy. It's been a long walk."
-- Alanis Obomsawin (source)

"So much history can be lost if no one tells the story -- so that's what I do. I tell the stories. This is my way of fighting for social change."
-- Alanis Obomsawin (source)

Quotes by Alanis Obomsawin [in French]

"Notre histoire doit être documentée et un des meilleurs moyens d'y arriver est via le film. Ne l'oublions pas, le film a cette faculté de bien voyager à travers le monde."
-- Alanis Obomsawin (source)

"Nous étions la seule famille indienne [à Trois-Rivières]. Toute mon enfance, je me suis fait battre, insulter, cracher dessus. Après je n'ai eu qu'une envie: combattre l'injustice."
-- Alanis Obomsawin (source)

Quotes about Alanis Obomsawin

"[Alanis Obomsawin's] films are often powerful indictments of the Canadian state's Aboriginal policies. As a series, they have become a significant record of the land claims battles and other social and political struggles of the past three and a half decades. The Obomsawin films participate in, and are acts of representation of, a dialogue within the Canadian state about the status and plight of Aboriginal peoples."
-- Zoë Druick (source)

"Alanis Obomsawin has had a long career as singer, writer, and storyteller, promoting the history and culture of her people. [...] After being seen in a television profile, Alanis, she was invited by the National Film Board to act as a consultant and has since divided her time between filmmaking and performing."
-- Jack C. Ellis, Betsy A. Mclane (source)

"[Alanis Obomsawin] appears in all of her films, seated on a picnic bench interviewing subjects, standing in a cluster of reporters, or barricaded behind the lines during a military battle. Her presence on the screen confirms her intimate connection to the subject matter, so while observational documentaries may labor to elide the filmmaker's presence, Obomsawin intentionally foregrounds it."
-- Jennifer L. Gauthier (source)

"Over the course of her remarkable career, [Alanis] Obomsawin -- one of only three remaining staff documentary filmmakers at the NFB -- has moved from the margins to the centre of institutional power in Canada. While her work is now officially embraced by the repressive state that she lambastes, Obomsawin has retained the instincts, sensibility and posture of the eternally alienated outsider."
-- Adrian Harewood (source)

"Her films have fundamentally altered the way in which the cause of First Peoples has been communicated to non-Native Canadians. She has been successful in altering common perceptions, both about the ability of Native communities to take charge of their destinies and about the urgency of institutional change."
-- Zuzana Pick (source)

"[Alanis Obomsawin's] work demystifies notions of disinterested observation in cinéma direct by inscribing her presence in the film, as narrator and subject. [...] Her work subverts the objectifying tendencies of the social documentary by revealing a heartfelt respect for the past and present of the people she has filmed."
-- Zuzana Pick (source)

"We were about to make a film on a remote Indian reserve [in 1967], and felt clueless about how to proceed. A friend of mine [...] had seen a documentary film on the CBC about Alanis. [...] A group of us met her and talked about her views on film. And that's when she said, 'Well, I've seen Film Board films dealing with Aboriginal people, and we never hear the people speak.'"
-- Bob Verrall (source)

"One aspect of [Alanis] Obomsawin's cinema that quickly distinguishes it from her contemporaries' is its oddly pared-down form. Her work displays little in the way of stylistic flourish or excess, and usually features explanatory voice-overs that might remind some of dull, pedagogical (NFB?) documentaries of the 1950s. However, this apparently simple aesthetic is peppered with a pronounced subjectivity. Furthermore, Obomsawin's work displays a tendency towards lyricism and massive narrative digressions, both techniques that shatter conventions of documentary realism."
-- Jerry White (source)

Quotes about Alanis Obomsawin [in French]

"Pour les Québécois de ma génération et de celle qui nous a précédés, [le nom d'Alanis Obomsawin] constitue un référent incontournable. On connaît Alanis Obomsawin aujourd'hui surtout pour ses films documentaires sans équivoque -- près d'une vingtaine -- mettant en relief les réalités sociales et politiques des peuples autochtones au Canada; les plus vieux se souviendront aussi de prestations remarquées comme chanteuse engagée ou comme invitée à la télévision au cours des années soixante et soixante-dix [...]."
-- Daniel Salée (source)

"Nous devions tourner un film sur une réserve autochotone éloignée [en 1967], et nous ne savions pas par où commencer. Un de mes amis [...] avait vu un documentaire à Radio-Canada sur Mme Obomsawin. [...] Nous l'avons recontrée et nous avons parlé de son point de vue sur les films. Et alors elle a dit 'Vous savez, j'ai vu plein de documentaires de l'ONF sur les peuples autochtones, et ils n'ont jamais la parole dans vos films.'"
-- Bob Verrall (source)

For QUOTES about a specific film by Alanis Obomsawin, please see:   Christmas at Moose Factory    Amisk    Mother of Many Children    Incident at Restigouche    Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child    No Address    Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance    My Name Is Kahentiiosta    Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man    Rocks at Whiskey Trench    Is the Crown at War with Us?    Waban-Aki : peuple du soleil levant   

Notes about Alanis Obomsawin

(sources)

Bibliography for Alanis Obomsawin

Section 1: Publications by Alanis Obomsawin

Section 2: Publications about Alanis Obomsawin

Books

Book Chapters

Brief Sections of Books

Journal Articles

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Documentaries

Web Sites

Section 3: Publications about the Films of Alanis Obomsawin

Christmas at Moose Factory (1971)

Brief Sections of Books

Amisk (1977)

Brief Sections of Books

Mother of Many Children (1977)  (also known as: "Mère de tant d'enfants")

Brief Sections of Books

Incident at Restigouche (1984)  (also known as: "Les événements de Restigouche")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Richard Cardinal: Cry from a Diary of a Métis Child (1986)  (also known as: "Richard Cardinal : le cri d'un enfant métis")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Poundmaker's Lodge: A Healing Place (1987)  (also known as: "La Maison Poundmaker : la voie de la guérison")

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

No Address (1988)  (also known as: "Sans adresse")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Kanehsatake 270 Years of Resistance (1993)  (also known as: "Kanehsatake - 270 ans de résistance")

Books

Book Chapters

Brief Sections of Books

Journal Articles

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Dissertation Chapters

My Name Is Kahentiiosta (1995)  (also known as: "Je m'appelle Kahentiiosta")

Brief Sections of Books

Spudwrench: Kahnawake Man (1997)  (also known as: "Spudwrench : l'homme de Kahnawake")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Rocks at Whiskey Trench (2000)  (also known as: "Pluie de pierres à Whiskey Trench")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Is the Crown at War with Us? (2002)  (also known as: "La Couronne cherche-t-elle à nous faire la guerre?")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Our Nationhood (2003)  (also known as: "La survie de nos enfants")

Brief Sections of Books

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Waban-Aki : peuple du soleil levant (2006)  (also known as: "Waban-Aki: People from Where the Sun Rises")

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Gene Boy Came Home (2007)  (also known as: "Gene Boy revient chez lui")

Newspaper or Magazine Articles

Archival Collections

These archival institutions have holdings related to Alanis Obomsawin or her films:


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