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Westbank First Nation-based filmmaker showcased at Sundance Film Festival

Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon) captivates audiences with a 360 degree Virtual Reality experience
Still from ‘This As Not a Ceremony’ (National Film Board of Canada)

This Is Not a Ceremony, is more than just a film.

Beginning in darkness the film ignites when two trickster poets envelopes the viewer in their fire. A virtual reality experience tells the story of colonization and racial injustice with elaborate animation, images and storytelling that encourage the viewer to become a “human ledger.’

“The idea is to bring people into the tradition of witnessing, part of the Indigenous ways of knowing,” says writer and director Ahnahktsipiitaa(Colin Van Loon).

The film aims to bring people closer to the Indigenous experience.

“The witness will see how heartbreaking and awful this is and maybe with their role as a witness they will feel compelled to make some changes in their community,” says Ahnahktsipiitaa.

The Indigenous tradition of witnessing relies on people acting as human ledgers to retain the knowledge of events and to retell their experiences. The viewer is invited to bear witness to the systemic racism in Canada.

“The hope is that people … will take their role as a witness seriously and will carry forward what they’ve seen and heard,” says Ahnahktsipiitaa.

The Sundance film festival has accepted This Is Not a Ceremony into its New Frontier 2022 lineup.

Still from ‘This As Not a Ceremony’ (National Film Board of Canada)
Still from ‘This As Not a Ceremony’ (National Film Board of Canada)

Ahnahktsipiitaa is Blackfoot and Dutch, originally hailing from The Piikani Nation. He moved to the Okanagan this year after growing up in Southern Alberta and living in Vancouver for much of his adult life. Ahnahktsipiitaa and his partner live in Westbank First Nation, where she grew up and is a member.

Based in Westbank, Ahnahktsipiitaa’s film production company is called Blackfoot Nation Film. He has an internship program where he employs local youth from the community to work on set. He’s also the operations manager for the Indigenous Matriarchs 4 AR/VR media lab and sits on Telefilm Indigenous Working Group.

The project was produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

Virtual attendees will be able to access the film remotely as long as they have a virtual reality headset.

The viewer is encouraged to view the film while sitting on a swivel chair in order to properly experience the 360-degree animation.

For more information visit Sundance Film Festival 2022 or .

READ MORE:Okanagan film industry booming despite COVID-19

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Jacqueline Gelineau

About the Author: Jacqueline Gelineau

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