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Kainai documentary premiere at Calgary festival

A feature documentary by a Kainai Nation filmmaker is one of four National Film Board of Canada works featured at the 2021 Calgary International Film Festival.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers’ acclaimed feature doc Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy presents a powerful story of hope and change from the Kainai First Nation.

The 2021 Calgary International Film Festival  runs from Sept. 23 to Oct. 3.

Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy has its Alberta premiere as part of the DGC Canadian Doc Competition.

Tailfeathers creates an intimate portrait of her community and the impacts of the substance use and overdose epidemic.

The film details the change brought by community members with substance use disorder, first responders and medical professionals as they strive for harm reduction in the Kainai First Nation.

Writer, director, producer and actor Tailfeathers is a member of the Blood Tribe who began her film career with the 2011 short Bloodlandand.

Tailfeathers has worked as director and actor across a range of genres, from music video to narrative fiction.

Tailfeathers’ director credits include A Red Girl’s Reasoning, Bihttoš and c̓əsnaʔəm, the city before the city.

The 2018 recipient of the Sundance Institute’s Merata Mita Fellowship, Tailfeathers describes her filmmaking as “a form of nonviolent direct action against issues like violence against women and degradation of Indigenous land.”

The Calgary International Film Festival is also presenting local premieres of three NFB shorts:

  • Into Light, a short doc shot in Yellowknife by West Vancouver’s Sheona McDonald, a Canadian Screen Award-winning director, writer and producer.
  • Multi-award-winning Montreal animator and illustrator Claude Cloutier’s latest short, Bad Seeds.
  • Evan’s Drum by Montreal-based Inuk freelance journalist Ossie Michelin, from North West River, Labrador.

More information about the 2021 Calgary International Film Festival is at

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