A Day with Filmmaker and First Nations Activist Barb Cranmer

Saturday, May 14, 2005 - 1:00pm

The University of Chicago is pleased to present internationally renowned documentary filmmaker, producer, writer, director and cultural worker Barb Cranmer. Starting with her first documentary film, Laxwesa Wa - Strength of the River (1995) about the First Nation people's efforts to build a sustainable fishery in a global economy, Ms. Cranmer's work has resonated with the image and voice of Native people, their concerns and joys. Her films document the texture of life as it is lived today - of weaving, carving, song, dance, fishing, and the Potlatch - and are informed by cultural and political self-determination.

Cranmer is not only a filmmaker, but a Band Council Member of the 'Namgis First Nation of Alert Bay, one of fourteen groups who make up the Kwakwaka'wakw Nation of British Columbia, Canada. Her films have been recognized by insiders and outsiders. They have received awards for Best Documentary at the American Indian Film Festival and have been screened at the Sundance Film Festival. In 1982 Cranmer, with filmmaker and U of C Cinema and Media Studies faculty member Judy Hoffman, founded the Salmonista Video Collective, which was created as a means for the Kwakwaka'wakw to document their own culture.

Our program will trace the beginnings of this process, to the work being done today in Alert Bay, to what is currently happening in the Native American Community in Chicago. Ms. Cranmer will be accompanied by several cultural workers from Alert Bay, including traditional weavers, carvers, dancers, singers, and language teachers. These cultural workers are also involved in economic development, land claims, and issues surrounding aboriginal titles. These events will provide a valuable opportunity for cultural exchange and discussion.

1pm screening

Laxwesa Wa: Strength of the River
(Cranmer, 1995) is Cranmer's first video project. This award winning documentary explores the rich fishing traditions of Sto:lo, Heiltsuk and 'Namgis peoples of Canada's West Coast. Gwishalaayt - The Spirit Wraps Around You (Cranmer, 2001) is a story told through the lives of six Native weavers who come from various places along the coast of British Columbia, into Southeast Alaska and the Yukon.

3:30-5:30pm Panel Discussion

The panel discussion will bring together filmmakers, academics, First Nations educators and cultural workers from within the University and the Chicago community at large. It is a forum for diverse communities to come together to discuss some of the pertinent social and cultural issues that have been raised throughout the three day event. Panel: Our Guest of Honour, Barb Cranmer
President of Chicago's Native American Educational Services College, Dr. Dorene Wiese
University of Chicago Anthropology Professor, Ray Fogelson
University of Chicago lecturer and filmmaker, Judy Hoffman
Moderator: Cinema and Media Studies Graduate Student, Theresa Scandiffio