The Image Before Us: A History of Film in British Columbia – The Finale
Screening Dates
  • June 21, 2023 6:30
Free Admission

The inspiration for my work comes from our own people’s rich history. I am a messenger of these stories and have been entrusted to bring them to a wider audience. The telling of our stories from our perspective and giving voice to our communities is critical. I feel fortunate to be able to live the history of our people through the documentaries I make.”

Barb Cranmer

Ƚaxwesa Wa—Strength of the River
Canada 1995
Barb Cranmer
54 min. DCP

As distinct fishing societies of great spiritual, cultural, and economic wealth, Indigenous peoples have always respected the resources of their rivers and oceans. But within their own lifetime, they have watched governments manage” the fishery into a state of crisis. Filmmaker Barb Cranmer, a member of the Na̱mǥis First Nation, explores the rich fishing traditions of the Sto:lo, Heiltsuk, and Na̱mǥis peoples of Canada’s West Coast in Ƚaxwesa Wa—Strength of the River. With over fifteen years’ experience fishing Johnstone Strait with her father, Cranmer presents rarely heard stories of traditional fishing practices and documents Indigenous peoples’ efforts to build a sustainable fishery for the future. —NFB

In English and Kwakʼwala with English subtitles

“[Cranmer’s] films document the texture of life as it is lived today—of weaving, carving, song, dance, fishing, and the Potlatch—and are informed by cultural and political self-determination.” —University of Chicago Film Studies Center

followed by

Namegan’s Om Dlu’wans Awinagwisex—We Are One with the Land
Canada 2009
Barb Cranmer
32 min. DVD

Comprising a network of lands, rivers, waters, and islands in the northern region of Vancouver Island, the ancestral territory of the Na̱mǥis First Nation has sustained and defined its people, in their spirit, song, and dance, for thousands of years. The existential bond between this place and its stewards is celebrated in Cranmer’s empowering short documentary.

In English and Kwakʼwala with English subtitles

Guests: producer Cari Green, filmmaker Loretta Todd

Barb Cranmer was one of the most prolific and awarded Indigenous documentary filmmakers of her generation. Her films resonate today with their themes of self-reliance, beneficial transformation, optimism, cultural legacy, and human dignity.” Harry Killas


Monkey Beach
Canada 2020
Loretta Todd
103 min. DCP

Based on the iconic novel by Haisla/​Heiltsuk author Eden Robinson, the first narrative feature from Cree/​Métis filmmaker Loretta Todd opened VIFF 2020 and swept the American Indian Film Festival awards, winning best picture, director, and all four acting prizes. A supernatural story rooted in spiritual tradition and the territory it is set (and shot) on—Kitamaat, BC—Monkey Beach follows a Haisla woman (Grace Dove), tormented by visions of dark fates and dead loved ones, as she returns to her Kitamaat community after two self-destructive years in Vancouver. Reunited with her family, she must reckon with her past and uncanny gifts, and save her kid brother (Tricksters Joel Ouellette), lost at sea. Despite the myriad drawbacks of a shoestring budget (frustrations the director has been frank about), Todd delivers a potent, intergenerational tale of cultural empowerment, familial bonds, and the porousness between realms mystical and material.

Introduced by director Loretta Todd

The debut dramatic feature of veteran filmmaker and media artist Loretta Todd, one of the first Indigenous women to pursue film studies at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.” Harry Killas

Mesmerizing … [A] powerful ode to Indigenous resilience, ancestral knowledge, and storytelling.” Paloma Pacheco, The Tyee

Please note: Unclaimed tickets for complimentary screenings at The Cinematheque will be released 15 minutes before showtime. Please arrive early to guarantee your seat.


Cari Green has been producing award-winning social issue documentary films for over thirty-five years, with leading filmmakers including Loretta Todd and the late Barb Cranmer. Her productions have screened at Sundance, IDFA, Hot Docs, and TIFF, among others. She has served on the board of the Hot Docs Film Festival, was co-chair of DOC BC, received the 2013 Mayor’s Arts Award for Film & Media, and is an honorary lifetime member of Women in Film and Television.

Loretta Todd (Cree/Métis) is an acclaimed filmmaker and visionary leader in Indigenous media. She has directed dozens of documentaries, including the Genie-nominated Forgotten Warriors (2007); produced and showrun award-winning series for children and youth; and created apps, installations, digital media, games, and animation. She is the founder and creative director of IM4 Media Lab, an Indigenous XR lab, and a fellow of the Indigenous Screen Office. Her many accolades include a Rockefeller Fellowship, participation in the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and a lifetime achievement award from imagineNATIVE. She made her fiction feature debut with Monkey Beach (2020).