Montreal First Peoples Festival Awards


Among wounded beings, neglected and often despised, like flashes of light on a blocked horizon, we witness great moments of humanity and hope. For weaving the marvels of an ancient legend into the banal contemporary reality of homeless people and for understanding that, atop the rubble of their broken dreams, men still dream;

The First Peoples Festival 2016 jury awards the Teueikan Grand Prize to Mekko by Sterlin Harjo


A man built bridges so the ancestral cosmovision of the Kogi people of Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta could be better heard by his people. His voice was silenced when he was murdered by drug traffickers. But his voice resounds again in a video to spark our memories: and we see him once again, a gentle and stubborn activist for the rights of Indigenous peoples, speaking to us of human fellowship beyond races, languages and beliefs.

Gentil Cruz, passeur de mémoire, a moving documentary tribute to a great and humble man, has earned the Rigoberta-Menchu Grand Prize at Montreal’s First Peoples’ Festival.


For capturing the offended dignity of an entire people embodied by the ordeal of a Maori activist dragged through the courts by the unremitting machinations of a colonial structure that represses and condemns the slightest aspiration to freedom, but above all for documentation of the historical reconciliation that emerged at the conclusion of the painful events this film makes us relive;

The First Peoples Festival 2016 jury awards the Rigoberta Menchu second prize to The Price of Peace, a documentary that embodies hope.


With its wilfully quirkt story line and carefree air, Chasing the light offers a consummate art of framing testifying to an unconditional love of cinema. For views that make the landscape a full-fledged character and for the luminosity, announced in the title, that we find in the images of a certain New Mexico artistic bohemia; Chasing the light by Blackhouse Lowe has earned the Best Cinematography prize awarded by the First Peoples Festival 2016 jury.


With extremely limited resources, this director makes us seize the existential turmoil raging in a troubled teenage girl’s soul. For precise and spare writing that gets to the gist of the matter and conveys all the emotional storms of adolescence with pure images where no artifice muffles the impact of the story line.

Bluey, by Darlene Johnson, takes the First Peoples Festival 2016 jury award for Best Short Film

Whether a sister or a cousin, a spouse or a friend, many people are seeking a missing person in the tragic wave that has impacted so many Indigenous communities in Canada. For their work capturing the distress but also the courage and determination in their great loss, motivating those who are searching for the body of a beloved person somewhere in the Red River, the First Peoples Festival 2016 jury awards the Coup de cœur award to this river, a short subject by Erika MacPherson and Katherena Vermette.


The imperceptible ties uniting forest people in a fusional relation and the invisible spiritual force emerging from this symbiosis inhabit every moment of this sensitive film, abetted by photography attentive to the soul of things and the beauty of faces.

The Séquences award for Best Documentary from First Peoples’ Festival 2016 goes to Kome Urue – Los Niños de la selva by the Colombian director Carlos Felipe Montoya.


By providing a platform for the people’s voice defending the integrity of natural spaces against greedy gold-mining multinationals, a film has taken on the role of a social phenomenon, calling for a revolt of consciousness against destructive large-scale projects.

Hija de la laguna has earned a special distinction in the documentary category from the Séquences jury at First Peoples Festival 2016


In a digital world, giving a hearing to Métis fiddlers and their melodies takes us to the essentials. Afterwards, our memory screen streams images from the cosmovisions of travelling peoples conversant with the stars; the tumultuous eddies and fabulous territories where heaven and earth meet.

Like electronic beading, Returning presents the twinkling stars our ever-rebellious inner self still dreams of, always longing for roads to travel. Elizabeth LaPensée’s brilliant achievement has earned the prize for best animated film, awarded by the First Peoples Festival 2016 jury.


In a single year, Sonia Bonspille-Boileau has achieved the exploit if directing her first full-length feature, Le Dep, and making a retrospective documentary on the changes the Oka Crisis provoked in Canadian society and in the way Aboriginal peoples in Canada view themselves, and has earned the APTN 2016 award for her tireless work as a First Nations filmmaker.


We are proud to announce that Qipisa, by Myna Ishulultak, has earned the New Director Award from Main Film, on the occasion of First Peoples’ Festival 2016.

Teueikan Grand Prize (Creation):

Mekko, Sterlin Harjo, USA

Prix Rigoberta Menchu (communautés):

Rigoberta Menchu Grand Prize

Gentil Cruz, passeur de mémoires, Philippe Brulois, France/R-U

Rigoberta Menchu Second Prize

Price of Peace, The, Kim Webby, Nouvelle-Zélande

Best Short Film:

Bluey, Darlene Johnson, Australia

« Coup de cœur »  Award:

This River, Erika MacPherson, Katherena Vermette, Canada

Best Cinematography:

Chasing The Light, Blackhorse Lowe, USA

Séquences Award for Best Documentary:

Kome Urue. Los niños de la selva, Carlos Felipe Montoya, Colombia

Special distinction in the documentary category:

Hija de la laguna, Ernesto Cabellos Damián, Pérou

Best animated Film :

Returning, Elizabeth LaPensee

Main Film New Director Award:

Qipisa, Myna Ishulutak, Canada

2016 APTN Award:

Sonia Bonspille Boileau (Le Dep, The Oka Legacy)

From the Desk of IXION Communications

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