Entertainment Briefs, April 19 2017

There was a free film screening of “The Pass System” last week. From the Northwest Resistance of 1885 and for more than 60 years, the Canadian Government denied many indigenous peoples of the prairies the basic freedom to leave their reserves, all the while knowing there was no basis in law for the policy. This investigative documentary features Cree, Saulteaux, Dene, Ojibwe and Blackfoot Elders and their stories of living under and resisting the system, revealing a little-known picture of life under segregation in Canada.

“This powerful film draws from Elders’ memories and historical artifacts in order to detail the history of the pass system — yet another example of the regulation and control of Indigenous people through colonial policies created by the Canadian state,” Idle No More.

Director: Alex Williams, Narration: Tantoo Cardinal, Editor: Igal Hecht, Music: Cris Derkson, Executive Producer: James Cullingham.

What We Do in the Shadows’ Taika Waititi (Maori) landed the biggest job of his career in October when Marvel handed him the reins to their superhero threequel Thor: Ragnarok, the 17th blockbuster in the $3.9 billion (and counting) Marvel Cinematic Universe. But last month, before he opened his latest film, “Hunt for the Wilderpeople” around the world, Waititi crossed an enormous milestone of personal significance back home: Wilderpeople, a charming two-hander about a young foster kid who goes on the lam in the New Zealand bush with his reluctant uncle, became the top-grossing New Zealand film of all time.

In doing so, actor-writer-director Waititi unseated the previous record holder — his own 2010 film “Boy”, about a Michael Jackson-obsessed Maori teen coming of age in the mid-’80s. “What’s cool is that if you look at box office statistics in New Zealand the most successful films are all Maori films,” Waititi beamed during a call from Australia, where he’s prepping Thor for a July shoot. “It makes our people proud and they realize, ‘Oh, shit — we can do this.’”

During the course of four feature films (Eagle vs. Shark, Boy, What We Do in the Shadows, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) and one Academy Award-nominated short (Two Cars, One Night), plus his work with fellow Kiwis Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie on Flight of the Conchords, Waititi has led the charge of comedically-gifted filmmakers coming out of New Zealand. His innate knack for comedy might have had something to do with how he landed the Marvel gig, he humbly offers.

Four writers of creative prose and one children’s author have won this year’s McKnight Artist Fellowship. The annual prize goes to five writers, with categories alternating between poetry, creative prose, and writing for children. Recipients — who each receive $25,000 — must have published at least one book or a significant number of publications in literary magazines.

One of this year’s creative prose winner’s is;

Heid E. Erdrich, poet, memoirist, essayist. Author of “Original Local,” a memoir in food and recipes, as well as five collections of poetry. She teaches in the MFA program at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. Heid grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Erdrich a long time resident of Minneapolis, MN and presenting this Friday at the University of Minnesota panel discussion, “Power on the Page”.

Heid’s big sister, Louise Erdrich’s “LaRose”, has just won the National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction, an honour she first received more than 30 years ago for her debut novel “Love Medicine”. Both sisters have just won major writing prizes in the same week.

In “LaRose”, this literary masterwork, Louise Erdrich, the bestselling author of the National Book Award-winning “The Round House” and the Pulitzer Prize nominee “The Plague of Doves” wields her breathtaking narrative magic in an emotionally haunting contemporary tale of a tragic accident, a demand for justice, and a profound act of atonement with ancient roots in native american culture.