Native Spirit Film Festival: Thirza Cuthand’s Retrospective is a Peek Into The Cree and Queer Experience 

Thirza Cuthand’s experimental filmography is a firsthand look into the artist’s mind. Varying from poetic imagery that matches a stream of consciousness-type spoken word to satirical infomercials for dating services or documentaries, this retrospective being presented at the Native Spirit Film Festival is a peek into Cuthand’s experience as Cree and queer. 

Cuthand first started exploring the world behind the lens of a camera as a teenager. Her earliest short being shown in this retrospective is from 1995. It comes from an innocent perspective of a budding lesbian who is legitimately curious about where the other girls who like girls are at her high school. The funny film is fueled by naive creativity that is evident of blossoming sexuality that continued to be a theme in Cuthand’s later work. 

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Opening Day of Native Spirit Fest in London Focused on Indigenous Language Revitalization 

In 2016, the United Nations made this year, 2019, ‘International Year of Indigenous Languages’. The hope was to help revitalize the Native languages that are disappearing more and more as elders that are fluent in these tongues are aging. Even with this proclamation, individual tribes and families have taken the burdening task of saving their language on themselves to guarantee that their children and grandchildren will have the opportunity to access the rich and vibrant culture that connects them to the generations before. 

A good portion of the films that were presented at the Native Spirit Fest dealt with the art of languages. It has become a rarity to hear a spoken Indigenous tongue in the medium of film and the lineup this year will warm the heart of Native people everywhere when words from these communities appear along with the imagery from their corresponding cultures. 

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Criterion Month: Breathless and the Anti-Manic Pixie Dream Girl

This essay is by our guest writer, Shea Vassar. 

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is the cute and quirky love interest that skips around in films that feature moody men who long to escape their current mundane lives. This archetype has existed since the beginning of cinematic history, but did not receive a proper title until Nathan Rabin’s 2004 review of Elizabethtown (Rabin, 2007). Rabin says that “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” Though he later apologized for coining the term, Rabin was critiquing the one-dimensional female characters that are constantly displayed in the movies (Rabin, 2014). Many viewers enjoy the whimsical, fairy-like girls that seem to skip around due to their unexplainable amount of confidence. The Manic Pixie Dream Girl lacks motivation, significant or human-like flaws, and the ability to grow past their state of being simply adorable.

Many female characters that seem a bit out of the ordinary by dressing with a unique sense of style or reading a certain poet wrongly receive the Manic Pixie Dream Girl label. Sadly, viewers have grown used to seeing underdeveloped female characters who are only there to propel forward the male protagonist. This is where Breathless differs. Patricia Franchini, played by Jean Seberg, displays the Manic Pixie Dream Girl aesthetic: her blonde hair is cut in a short pixie style and she studies journalism at the Sorbonne. She also enjoys talking of romanticism and philosophy and her American status just adds to her appeal. But Patricia is not a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

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