Spotlight on Danis Goulet
Her sci-fi movie is set in a postwar future, yet looks at the atrocities of our colonial past.
“Everything in the film has already happened in history. It’s set in the future, but takes everything from reality and reapplies it in a new space,” says Cree-Métis director and writer Danis Goulet about her dystopian debut feature Night Raiders, heading to the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this fall.
Funded by the CMF, this Canada-New Zealand coproduction addresses “the impact of colonial policies on Indigenous people.”
A force to be reckoned with, Danis became Executive Director of imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival in 2004. This “changed her universe,” in part through the joy of Indigenous audiences seeing themselves represented onscreen. Learning Cree, one of the film’s languages, has been “one of the most important things” in her life. She attends Cree immersion camps, and online conversation groups with other Cree-language learners.
While writing Night Raiders, Danis “listened to a lot of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings.”
“This is a really heavy time and all the communities across Canada are really in a state of mourning,” she replies, in light of the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves near residential schools. “Our communities have known this truth for a long time, we’ve been talking about residential schools, we’re just immersed in stories... There was something about the findings in Kamloops that brings it all up again, but it’s my hope that it brings to light the truth for everyone to see.”
“I made Night Raiders wanting to talk about this truth,” she says. “I chose to do it as a genre film to give everybody a fresh entry point in, because it’s easy to turn away from it, it’s very heavy, it’s hard to look at and hard to hold, it’s so important that we find ‘ways in’ to talking about it. Because I don’t know how we can move forward as a country if you’re not willing to grapple with this.”
“We must grapple with it if we want to ask ourselves who we want to be as a country for the future, if we look back and say we recognize this country was founded upon the death of Indigenous children and genocide, that’s a really heavy thing to look in the face. But we have to dare to go there if we want to go forward in the right way.”