February 25, 2011

Mi'gMaq director's violent films

Film Director Crystallizes Mi'gMaq Perspective

Jeff Barnaby Not Shy About Using Violence To Convey Indian Experience

By Susan Dunne
When Jeff Barnaby was a boy, he played with Transformers and He-Man toys and, even at a young age, made a telling observation.

"We're very morally ambiguous and violent. … There were no good guys-bad guys scenarios in any of the play acting. It was a free-for-all," Barnaby says. "Having a philosophy like that before you were in nursery school just lends itself to graphic imagery."

Today, Barnaby, 34, is an up-and-coming filmmaker who uses violent scenes to help deliver his message. As he says: "They're an effective means to conveying any ethos. There's no better way to articulate the enormity of life metaphorically and denotatively and in a real short period of time than throwing some blood up on the screen."

Barnaby, who spent his childhood on a Mi'gMaq reserve in Quebec, presents filmgoers with unexpected stories about native peoples. His short films "Colony" and "File Under Miscellaneous" have racial issues at their core, but they are really intense psychodramas about men on the edge. "File Under Miscellaneous" is about a Mi'gMaq man who undergoes a horrifying procedure to change his race. "Colony" is about a Mi'gMaq driven to a violent mental breakdown when his girlfriend leaves him. "File" recently was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival.

Barnaby has just finished writing a script called "Blood Quantum," about Mi'gMaqs who discover they are immune to a zombie plague and must decide whether to help the white folks or help themselves.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sherman Alexie did something similar. Alexie's is actually a pretty good inversion of the A Nazi By Any Other Name trope: The people are still in concentration camps, but, rather than for the purpose of sterilizing and killing them, for the purpose of selectively breeding them.

I've noticed that mainstream American media companies like black-and-white morality. Villains are always portrayed as drug dealers, Nazis, terrorists (whose motives are never discussed), or other people we clearly identify as evil. Perhaps this reflects something about American history. But it's more common for morality to be black-and-grey at the most clear.