Six Nations community members got a chance to view a short film last Friday evening at the GREAT Theatre, which is directed by Karahkwenhawi Zoe Hopkins and was presented by Big Soul Productions. Mohawk Midnight Runners is about the perseverance and struggle of three Native youth to move on in life after the death of
Six Nations community members got a chance to view a short film last Friday evening at the GREAT Theatre, which is directed by Karahkwenhawi Zoe Hopkins and was presented by Big Soul Productions. Mohawk Midnight Runners is about the perseverance and struggle of three Native youth to move on in life after the death of a close friend who committed suicide.
Director Zoe Hopkins was available for questions after the show. Asked what her inspiration was for the film, Hopkins stated, “My inspiration came from a book of short stories written by Richard Van Camp who is a member of the Dogrib (Tlicho) Nation in Fort Smith, Northwest Territories. His story was originally titled ‘Dogrib Midnight Runners,’ but he gave me permission to change the title to ‘Mohawk Midnight Runners.” Hopkins originally wanted to film the movie in the NWT but due to limited funding, decided to film on Six Nations instead.
Van Camp’s ‘Dogrib Midnight Runners’ is based on a true story of a non-Native male, Paul Grundy, who spent a lot of time on the Dogrib territory. He was good friends with many people in the community and was known as ‘the midnight runner’ because he would streak naked through the village late at night. “He was also a successful lawyer with a young family,” stated Hopkins, “so when he committed suicide, it was a real shock to the community.”
The short film addresses suicide, which is often stigmatized and not spoken about. Hopkins showed her film to Grundy’s family and said they were very happy with it. “They told me that watching my film was very healing and helped them along in their healing journey and they were very happy we made the film. Suicide is something that happens all too often in our community,” stated Hopkins.
One of the most chilling aspects of the movie was after the character committed suicide and his friends were left wondering why he did it. His photos depicted him as a great guy, someone who was always happy and having a great time. Someone who always had a smile on his face and was always willing to help others out. His friends had a difficult time coping with the tragedy in the first year following his death. “When Creator takes a life, he gives two back,” said one of the characters in the film, “but what happens when you take your own life?”
Hopkins screened her film last Sunday in Toronto at the Canadian Sports Center and is also set to premiere at film festivals in Saskatchewan and New Zealand. She has been nominated for Best Aboriginal Production, Best Drama and has previously won an Audience Award and Best Canadian Short Film at ImagiNative.