Speaker Alanis Obomsawin

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Alanis Obomsawin

Cultural Attaché, First Nations, and Producer-Writer-Director

NFB The National Film Board of Canada

A member of the Abenaki Nation and one of Canada’s most distinguished filmmakers, Alanis Obomsawin is a director and producer at the National Film Board of Canada, where she has worked since 1967.

Her upcoming films are Wabano: The Light of the Day and The Green Horse (working title). These will be her 56th and 57th films in a legendary career now spanning 56 years, devoted to chronicling the lives and concerns of First Nations people and exploring issues of importance to all.

Her 2022 film Bill Reid Remembers was named to the short film program of Canada's Top Ten, honouring the best in Canadian cinema. Ms. Obomsawin's 2019 production Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger completed a seven-film cycle devoted to the rights of Indigenous children and Peoples.

Her body of work includes such landmark films as Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993), documenting the 1990 Kanien’kéhaka (Mohawk) uprising in Kanehsatake and Oka, as well as her groundbreaking Incident at Restigouche (1984), a behind-the-scenes look at Quebec police raids on a Mi’kmaq reserve.

From April 7 to August 6, 2023, the Vancouver Art Gallery is presenting The Children Have to Hear Another Story –Alanis Obomsawin, an exhibition tracing Obomsawin’s artistic activism over five decades, first shown at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin in 2022. An accompanying book, Alanis Obomsawin: Lifework (eds. Richard William Hill, Hila Peleg and HKW), is published by Prestel.

On April 18, 2023, she was honoured with a tribute in the Senate of Canada, and in June, Obomsawin will receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Toronto—her 13th honorary degree.

On July 23, Obomsawin will receive the Edward MacDowell Medal, recognizing individuals who have made significant cultural contributions. She is the first woman filmmaker to receive this award in its 63-year history.

In 2021, the Toronto International Film Festival presented Obomsawin with the Jeff Skoll Award in Impact Media, recognizing leadership in creating a union between social impact and cinema, along with a career retrospective entitled Celebrating Alanis.

In 2020, Obomsawin received the Rogers-DOC Luminary Award at the DOC Institute Awards, in addition to the Glenn Gould Prize.

Speaking on: Indigenous Screen Summit Pitch Forum #1: unscripted/documentary; Rockies Gala (Van Horne Ballroom)

At the Banff Media Festival, we met with Netflix and took a ride up Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. That’s where we made the pitch.
- Naveen Prasad, EVP and GM, Elevation Pictures
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