Tag Archives: APTN

Drew Hayden Taylor explores everything from the weird and wacky to the deep and profound ways Indigenous Peoples impact the world in Going Native

From a media release:

Sam Karney (A Life on the Line) and Andrew Wiens (A Life on the Line) of Ice River Films are pleased to announce that the IndigiGonzo series, Going Native, starring Drew Hayden Taylor (Cottagers & Indians, Searching for Winnetou, Mixed Blessings) will premiere on Canada’s national Indigenous network APTN. The half hour, 13-episode series premieres Saturday, May 8, 2021.

In Going Native, celebrated Anishinaabe humorist and author Drew Hayden Taylor turns his comic gaze on how Indigenous Peoples have changed the world and are re-shaping their culture in the 21st century. Each episode takes on one theme, from pop culture to architecture, as Drew takes viewers on a wild journey of discovery from concert halls to desert ruins and from video game conventions to treacherous cliff pole-fishing expeditions.

Every episode is its own unique adventure, and Drew’s perspective ties it together. When people think about Native buildings, they think about teepees, longhouses and wigwams. But Drew Hayden Taylor is thinking about the revolutionary architects that are creating zero-emission communities on the West Coast. When people think about Native food they think about pemmican and seal blubber; but Drew is tucking into nouveau cuisine in downtown Toronto and learning how traditional “companion planting” of crops is revolutionizing today’s agriculture. When people think about Native culture, they think about beads and dancing, while Drew is watching zombie movies and checking out graffiti artists.

Written by Drew Hayden Taylor, Kurt Spenrath and Paul Kemp, Going Native is directed by Sam Karney, Paul Kemp (Cottagers & Indians, Searching for Winnetou), Andrew Wiens and Kurt Spenrath (Queen of the Oil Patch). Produced by Sam Karney, Andrew Wiens, and Kurt Spenrath, and executive produced by Paul Kemp of Paul Kemp Productions and Drew Hayden Taylor.

Going Native has been commissioned and financed by APTN, with financial contributions also coming from The Canada Media Fund, Manitoba Film and Music and Ontario Creates.

Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning playwright, novelist, journalist and filmmaker. Born and living on the Curve Lake First Nation (Anishinaabe) in Ontario, he has done everything from stand-up comedy at the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. to serving as artistic director of Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada’s leading Indigenous theatre company. The author of 33 books, Drew likes to travel the world, spreading the gospel of Native literature and storytelling.

Ice River Films was established in Winnipeg in 2013 by Sam Karney and Andrew Wiens to pursue a passion for storytelling through the lens of documentary filmmaking. Propelled by early work in short film for CBC and Bell MTS, their first hour-long documentary, A Life on the Line (APTN), explored Sam’s Métis roots and family tradition of working a trap line. Travelling the world, the duo has since worked on several docuseries including, High Maintenance (Smithsonian Canada), Polar Bear Town (Smithsonian US), Taken (APTN/CBC) and First Contact (S02, APTN). Their latest, Going Native (APTN), is hosted by Drew Hayden Taylor.

Paul Kemp Productions is a multiple award-winning TV series and feature documentary film company based in Toronto. With over 50 films and series produced over the years, and with sales in over 140 countries, some of the company’s notable productions include: Searching for Winnetou (CBC), Transformer (CBC, Netflix USA), The Rise of Jordan Peterson (CBC, SKY UK, Amazon), Village of the Missing (CBC, Sundance Now), Cottagers & Indians (CBC), The Science of Sin (Discovery International), Rise of the Trolls (Amazon + 80 countries) and Infestation (UKTV, ZDF-GERMANY).


Rezolution Pictures’ GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land, set in Mi’gmaq fishing community, debuts February 11 & 13 on APTN

From a media release:

Rezolution Pictures has announced the debut of the first season of APN’s original series GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land, a 13-part half-hour documentary series about the Mi’gmaq fishers of Listuguj, Que., who make their living on the nearby waters harvesting salmon, crab, lobster and shrimp. While the series takes a lighthearted approach to life in Listuguj, it also provides a First Nations perspective on how a commercial fishing industry – one that was born out of violence and defiance – grew to be a key economic and cultural support for the community. Shooting began in the fall of 2018, but the subject has become topical as the conflict between Nova Scotia’s Mi’gmaq and non-Indigenous commercial fishers continues in southwest Nova Scotia.

The series will premiere in Mi’gmaq on Feb. 11 at 7 p.m. CT on aptn n and on Feb. 18 at 7 a.m. ET on aptn e/hd and 7 a.m. MT on aptn w.
The English premiere will be on Saturday, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m. ET on aptn e/hd, 7 p.m. CT on aptn n and 7 p.m. MT on aptn w.

Set against the beautiful backdrop of Canada’s world-renowned Gaspé Peninsula region in Quebec, GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land is fast-paced, funny and intimate. Experience a devotional journey with the fishers of Listuguj as they battle long days and nights on the water. The community of Listuguj is a small but feisty reserve on the border of Quebec and New Brunswick. Their success has been hard won over the years: clashes with police, raids and court cases all played a role in the birth and development of the humble fishery that is now a multi-million-dollar enterprise. Everything here has a connection to fishing, from self-governance and environmental sustainability, to bringing back the annual powwow and the Mi’gmaq language to younger generations.

GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land is a character-driven documentary series that explores the intergenerational sacrifice, dedication, and the heart of the Mi’gmaq fishers on the east coast of Canada. Tune into this compelling and dynamic series that glimpses into a region and culture rarely seen on television, in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

APTN has confirmed the development of the second season of GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land.

GESPE’GEWA’GI: The Last Land is co-executive produced and co-directed by Ernest Webb and Greg Lawrence, produced by Lisa M. Roth. It also introduces director trainee Heather Condo, who directed the Wapikoni short film, “My Father’s Tools” which screened at Sundance and festivals around the world.


APTN’s Tribal returns for Season 2 production

From a media release:

APTN and Prairie Dog Film + Television’s one-hour crime drama series, TRIBAL begins Season 2 production today in Calgary.

In Season 2 of TRIBAL, Chief Sam Woodburn and Detective Bukansky’s grisly discovery causes them to question who they can trust. Connie appoints a new leader of the Task Force as they try to uncover who is responsible for the “Tomb”, Indigenous bodies buried under a water treatment plant. An uprise of crime continues. A white poacher is found dead on a reserve. A hostage is taken into custody. Murders linked to ritualistic manners take place. Are the “Starlight Tours resurrected”? Sam and Buke come face-to-face with the memory of Buke’s shooting. The divide escalates between the Metro and Tribal police departments, affecting Sam and Buke’s partnership.

TRIBAL’s cast and crew return to set following health and safety protocols due to COVID-19. TRIBAL’s Showrunner Ron E. Scott shares, “It has been an interesting journey. We are looking forward to getting back to shooting with our hard-working cast and crew. Season 2 includes new dimensional, ripped-from-the-headlines stories, including missing and murdered Indigenous people, police corruption and the effects of PTSD. We look forward to welcoming the new cast and crew to the series.”

TRIBAL’s award-winning cast returns including Jessica Matten (Frontier, Blackstone) and Brian Markinson (Mad Men, Unspeakable). The series will again feature the talented Garry Chalk, and Julian Black Antelope with new characters featuring Marci T. House, Stephen Huszar, Wesley French and Ashley Callingbull.

Filming will take place at various locations in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

TRIBAL is led by Executive Producer & Showrunner Ron E. Scott, Co-Executive Producer Janet Hamley, Co-Executive Producer Adam Frost, and produced by Scott Lepp. The series will broadcast in Canada on APTN.

TRIBAL is produced in association with APTN, in participation with the Canada Media Fund and the Rogers Cable Network Fund, with assistance from the Government of Alberta, the Screen-based Production Grant and the Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.


Nations at War returns to APTN for stories of North American conflict

Nations at War is about the conflicts Indigenous groups have had between each other and outside forces throughout North American history, but the goal of the program—returning for Season 2 on APTN this Saturday—isn’t to celebrate the violence. Rather, it’s to show how damaging it is.

“I want people to realize that war is the least effective and worst option to resolve any issue,” says Tim Johnson. “It is almost always instigated by someone who is looking for an easy path to success or is really desperate.” Created by Johnson, the first season of Nations at War outlined how a continent of nations became dominated by three. The sophomore go-round of 13 instalments examines the impact of migration and the arrival of newcomers on those nations.

Nations at War is the kind of program that should be part of Canadian school curriculum. I learned more about how First Nations groups were pushed out of their land by Europeans in one 22-minute episode than I did a whole course of Canadian history in high school. Narrated by David Lyle—and featuring experts like Simon Fraser Professor of Archaeology, Dr. Eldon Yellowhorn—reenactments, stock footage, breathtaking CGI and stunning music, Nations at War gallops at a breakneck, exhilarating pace. I headed to Google several times during a screener of Episode 11, “Broken Promises,” for more information.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” says producer and Métis filmmaker Jason Friesen (Health Nutz). “Tim is very enthusiastic and a knowledgeable person about history. It got the wheels turning for me, creatively, and we all need to know more about our history.”

Johnson did an incredible amount of reading in preparation for Nations at War. Growing up in Halifax, his junior high history classes recalled the Mi’kmaq peoples of the Maritimes. For him, Canadian history meant Indigenous Peoples, followed by the invasion of the English and the French. When it came to creating Nations at War, it was all about telling the human story, and the more obscure or interesting the better.

“Jason and I sat down with my bullet-point list and said, ‘OK, why is this story good?'” recalls Johnson. “Jason is Métis, so one of the things he said was, ‘I want to see Métis stories.'”

As Nations at War tells, for the majority of human history, North America’s population was entirely Indigenous. Then, in the early 1600s, Europeans began to establish colonies along the Atlantic coast. These settlements became gateways through which millions of people would eventually flow west, creating demand for new land.

Europeans weren’t the only people creating chaos as they settled across North America. The Ojibwe and Lakota were already on the move, and their migration created a domino effect which provoked conflict and cultural change, as peoples who already called the west home fought to defend their territory.

“I want people to tune in and have those moments of, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’ Googling it and opening things up to conversation,” Friesen says. “People get certain ideas about what they’ve read or been told in the past, and the way we present it gives many different perspectives.”

Nations at War airs Saturdays at 7 p.m. Eastern on APTN.

Images courtesy of Athan Merrick.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Indigenous songwriters take centre stage in APTN’s Amplify

I’m a huge fan of music documentaries and count Soundbreaking, It Might get Loud, Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage and Sonic Highways among my favourites. I’ll add Amplify to the mix.

Debuting Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern on APTN, Amplify was created by Métis writer, director, musician and cinematographer Shane Belcourt, and focuses on Indigenous songwriters and those that have inspired them. What sets Amplify apart is not only the subject matter—songwriter Cheryl L’Hirondelle (above) and author Robin Wall Kimmerer are showcased in Episode 1—but the look of each of the 13 episodes. Rather than simple talking heads inter-cut with performances, the series’ cameras pause on flowers waving in a breeze, a tumbledown barn in a field, or ripples on a pond.

We spoke to Shane Belcourt about how Amplify came about, and what he hopes viewers will experience as they watch it.

What made you create Amplify?
Shane Belcourt: The producers that I work with wanted to make a music documentary series. The default for that kind of music documentary series is usually the biography series, ‘Here’s the musician, here’s what they’ve done.’ I mean, sure I like them, but I want to watch a TV show that has some artistry behind it, that has some kind of uniqueness that I can’t get anywhere else. I was quite inspired by Dave Grohl’s HBO documentary series, Sonic Highways, as well as the Netflix series, a very popular one, Chef’s Table.

I thought, ‘There’s something about both of these documentaries, the way that they’re structured and the pacing and the points that they bring out.’ But the other big one was when you think about going to musicians and saying, ‘Hey, you’re great. Tell me why you’re great. Rolling,’ they’re going to be like, ‘Uh, no thanks.’

Shane Belcourt

But if you said, ‘Hey, what’s something that you’ve read recently or thought about, or something in our Indigenous world that you’re really excited to explore and think about that’s really shaped you? Will you tell me about that?’ And, of course, every musician is like, ‘Oh yeah, hey, you should read this and I love this part and that part. And here’s what it means to me.’ Through that micro focus, you get the macro feeling of who this person really is. So you get the biography, you get the feeling of who this person is through focusing on one thing that they’re excited to talk about.

One of the things that struck me were the times you’re showing a barn in a field or some flowers. Clearly that was a conscious decision on your part to make this different.
SB: Yeah. I’ve got to really tip my hat to the broadcaster, APTN. I sold them originally from the lookbook and from the pitch deck. I said, ‘Listen. I want to do something that has the pacing, like Chef’s Table, that’s very meditative, that takes time to linger on a shot. We’re in no rush.’

And to their credit, they said, ‘Great.’ One of my friends has this great saying. He’s actually musician. He said, ‘When the world runs, walk slow. When the world goes slow, start running. If you want to stand out, do the opposite.’ And so I think that there’s a history now of documentaries. There’s so many good documentaries. And I’m inspired by the visual treatment that we’re all pushing to.

How did you decide on the songwriters you were going to include?
SB: I work really closely with producer Michelle St. John, and she knows everybody. She’s great. We thought, ‘OK, well, we know what the recipe of the show is: Songwriter + inspiration = an episode.’ So we thought, ‘OK, well, who are 13 songwriters that we’d love to spend time with who we know are articulate, and also a mix between somebody who’s known like iskwē and someone who’s less known like Lacey Hill?’ We definitely wanted to make a list that had a lot of Indigenous female performers. So that was also a juggling act. You make your big list.

Author Robin Wall Kimmerer

And I would say 80 per cent agreed right off. We called them. They’re like, ‘We love this idea. Totally interested. We’re in.’ And while we made that list of songwriters, we also then made a parallel list of what director would be perfect to work with that songwriter.

One of the things that I enjoyed is you had each person introduce themselves in their Indigenous language.
SB: Yeah. So much of welcoming and greeting yourself and introducing yourself to the space or to the people who you’re sharing that space with is to express who you are and where you’re from and what your community and nation is. Who holds you, what group has brought you forward as opposed to, ‘I’m this isolated person named Dale or Bob or whatever.’ That was something that we wanted, too. It just made sense to do that. And the other thing too, is that the musicality of the language was something that we just love to hear. It just gives them a little flavour of something that just to me, sounds a little sweeter and pulls the audience in a little further as they read the subtitles, but hear the sound for most of the people who don’t speak Ojibway.

When people tune in and watch Amplify, what are you hoping that they do? Do you want them to hit up iTunes and look for this music and start Googling these artists and the people who inspired them?
SB: That’s just it. You just nailed it right there. The hope that someone watching the show is that for a half-hour TV block, they get to sit down and be transported into a place that has these unusual and new characters and voices and sounds. And then at the end of it, they’re just thinking a couple of things. One is, for something like in the pilot, ‘I have to go buy a copy of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book. I want to read it.’ That’s what you hope because it’s such a great book. And then, ‘Oh, I want to check out Cheryl L’Hirondelle. I love the sound of her stuff. It’s so interesting.’ I’m someone who as an artist, I guess ultimately whenever I watch a great movie or a great show, I want to make something. It inspires me to be creative and do what I do. So I hope, ultimately, people watch it and go, ‘I want to sit down and write a song,’ or whatever it is that they do to get out there and just be creative.

Amplify airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on APTN.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail