Tag Archives: Jennifer Podemski

An Indigenous woman returns to her birth family in APTN’s Unsettled

There have been many, many television series using the fish out of water scenario as a key part of its storytelling. And APTN’s Unsettled does it in a very effective way.

Airing Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern on APTN, Unsettled follows the journey of Rayna Keetch (Cheri Maracle). A victim of the Sixties Scoop—the mass removal of Indigenous children from their families into the child welfare system—Rayna returns to her First Nation for a traditional homecoming ceremony when life throws her a curveball. Her husband, Darryl (Brandon Oakes), loses his business, car and their Toronto home. The result? A short visit turns into something more long-term for Rayna, Darryl and kids Stacia (Michaella Shannon) and Myles (Joshua Odjick).

Created, written and directed by Jennifer Podemski and Derek Diorio (Hard Rock Medical), Unsettled has been in the back of Podemski’s mind for years.

“I built this narrative around this family,” Podemski says. “Really using a lot of my own experiences and my desire to interweave and focus it with an authentic Indigenous lens.” Themes include child welfare, the aforementioned Sixties Scoop, residential schools, loss of identity and substance abuse and Podemski had a circle of advisors on-hand to make sure she got the facts correct.

A truly unique way of framing the story is through Henry (Albert Owl), Rayna’s father and the local radio DJ. Viewers listen to Henry speaking to his audience in Ojibwe, recalling the past while fuzzy, home movie-like visuals roll. It’s very well done.

“These stories are effective because they’re so rarely told,” Podemski says. “My goal was to weave these storylines, but not be an issue-driven show, be a character-driven show that weaves characters that are directly connected to these issues.”

Unsettled airs Fridays at 8 p.m. Eastern on APTN.

Images courtesy of APTN.

Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Award winning producer/director Jennifer Podemski launches The Shine Network

From a media release:

Today The Shine Network, a federally incorporated social enterprise which commits to empower and celebrate Indigenous Canadian female content creators, goes live online at shinenetwork.ca. Founded by award-winning actor, director, writer and producer Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt, Dance Me Outside, Cardinal, Degrassi: The Next Generation), The Shine Network is currently seeking donors and strategic partners to champion its mandate and to help build its professional development incubator.

Slated to officially launch with full programming in early 2021, the free subscriber-based platform will provide both an exhibition space for content and a talent incubator with virtual training for those pursuing a career in the Canadian film, television and media industry. The Shine Network’s digital cinema space will feature a diverse variety of content made by Indigenous women. Additionally, special presentations will include curated works by established Indigenous filmmakers, virtual artist discussion sessions and exclusive online screening events.

Being forced to pivot during a pandemic got me thinking about how I can best serve my community and make a positive and lasting impact on the Canadian media landscape,” says Jennifer Podemski, The Shine Network, Founder and CEO. “The Shine Network is my call to action to address the grossly disproportionate realities Indigenous women face when it comes to inclusion, access and funding.”

Statistics show that the current industry paradigm is not providing equal opportunity to Indigenous female creators and The Shine Network is devoted to shifting this reality with a commitment to fostering talent. The Shine Network’s Professional Development Incubator will provide Indigenous women access to an array of masterclasses and tutorials created to motivate and inspire. All classes will be virtual and custom designed to address the unique challenges Indigenous women face and provide insight and actionable steps to overcoming those obstacles. Subscribers who complete all classes and tutorials will be given access to one-on-one sessions with a select group of virtual mentors.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Jennifer Podemski’s new series, Unsettled, headed to APTN

The last time I spoke to Jennifer Podemski, I reached out to her to discuss Season 2 of her series, Future History. This time around, Podemski contacted me about her newest project.

Unsettled, for APTN and TVO, follows an urban Indigenous family who loses their fortune and must move from Toronto to a Northern Ontario First Nation.

Created, written, directed and executive-produced by Podemski and Hard Rock Medical‘s Derek Diorio, the 10-episode first season of Unsettled stars Cheri Maracle, Brandon Oakes, Tamara Podemski, Wesley French, Pam Mathews, Lawrence Bayne, Mitchell Loon and Albert Owl. Recurring cast includes Michaella Shannon, Glen Gould, Joshua Odjick, Lisa Cromarty, Tasheena Sarazin, Miigwan Buswa, Sid Bobb, Stephanie Aubertin, Willow Podemski-Bedard and Michael Podemski-Bedard.

Shot almost entirely on Nipissing First Nation, Unsettled is the first dramatic series to be funded through the CMF Aboriginal Language Program. Podemski’s open casting call resulted in over 50 Indigenous community members landing roles as principal actors, actors and background performers; out of 55 roles, 50 are Indigenous characters played by Indigenous actors.

Images courtesy of Jennifer Podemski.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Jennifer Podemski tells stories of Indigenous communities in APTN’s Future History

I can’t get enough of history, especially when it comes to Canada. What I dismissed as boring when I was in high school has become a fascination. And, thanks to APTN, I’ve learned a lot about Indigenous peoples and their stories.

A plethora of tales is told in Season 2 of Jennifer Podemski’s excellent Future History. Airing Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET, the program has really hit its stride in the sophomore go-round as producer-director Podemski follows Indigenous activist and artist Sarain Fox and archaeologist Kris Nahrgang through 13 half-hour episodes. For Nahrgang, this journey is deeply personal. He was raised not knowing anything about his First Nations roots and continues to gain knowledge this year. In the show’s May 14 debut, viewers learned how Nahrgang’s grandmother covered her skin with makeup to look white and joined what Nahrgang’s mother called “white clubs.”

“It’s not a story you often hear,” Podemski says. “Especially in this journey of reclamation, I think that many Canadians who see themselves as white, or non-Native, might never have considered they too might be a Kris.” The idea for Future History came about because of a meeting Podemski had with a production company working with Nahrgang on a possible archaeology project. The actress, writer, producer and director was intrigued at the idea of something historical, but with a future slant. Adding a younger co-host, Podemski reasoned, would polarize not just Nahrgang’s distance from his culture but his age and on-camera experience.

“That also helps people really understand that he is on a very uncomfortable journey,” she says. The uncomfortable feeling really comes through, especially when Nahrgang gamely agrees to attend an Ojibway immersion camp where no English is spoken for days. Fox and Nahrgang visit different areas of the country in their journeys, visiting Southern Ontario locales like Orillia, Peterborough, Kitchener and Manitoulin Island. Their segments are broken up by the Talking Stick, where Indigenous members of the community look straight into the camera to vent frustrations, give advice or voice concerns.

“We were only looking for a minute, but it started a lot of great conversations and I really wanted it to feel not necessarily thematically tied to the episode,” Podemski says. “I wanted it to be a voice from the community, another texture that may be totally unrelated to what we are talking about.

“When we’re telling stories through an Indigenous lens it’s so important to me that we don’t paint them with one brush.”

Future History airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET on APTN. You can watch past episodes on APTN.ca.

Image courtesy of APTN.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

Groundbreaking Indigenous docu-series Future History returns for a second season premiering May 14 at 8 p.m. ET on APTN

From a media release:

Following the success of its trailblazing first season, Future History returns to explore stories of Indigenous communities at the forefront of the reclamation movement in Canada. Future History, Season Two (13×30) premieres Tuesday, May 14 2019, at 8 p.m. ET exclusively on APTN East and 8 p.m. MT on APTN West.

This smart, heartfelt docu-series is produced and directed by award-winning Canadian producer and actress Jennifer Podemski (Empire of Dirt, Dance Me Outside, Cardinal, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and co-produced by Geoff Ewart (Empire of Dirt, The Associates, The Border). Future History is written by actress and writer Tamara Podemski (Coroner, Heartland, Four Sheets to the Wind) and co-hosted by notable Indigenous activist and artist Sarain Fox (RISE) and Kris Nahrgang, an archeologist reclaiming his identity. The co-hosts bond together as they explore their own biases and beliefs, journeying into Indigenous communities to meet innovators who are harnessing Indigenous Knowledge as a way to rewrite history and transform their future, ultimately reconnecting with their land and heritage.

Audiences this season can expect to be captivated by a 13-year old water activist and cultural warrior; find joy and get down at a youth dance and music workshop; hear valuable and compassionate stories from a suicide prevention and intervention organization and understand how Indigenous Knowledge is implemented in cutting edge social science research, childbirth and prenatal care, just to name a few. A full list of episode descriptions is available here.

Future History is made possible by the generous support of Canada Media Fund (CMF), Rogers Documentary Fund and APTN.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail