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Dir. by Thirza Cuthand
Canada | 2019 | Documentary | 6 min
In this short doc featuring dramatized re-enactments, filmmaker Thirza Cuthand’s Auntie Beth tells the story of a Two Spirit person named Woman Dress. Pre-contact, Woman Dress travels the Plains, going from village to village, collecting and telling stories, and sharing news.
Woman Dress’s own story has been kept alive orally in the Cuthand family, an act of resistance against colonialism and Christianity, which almost eradicated the position of Two Spirit people in Cree communities.
Cree has no gendered pronouns, and the film honours and respects Woman Dress’s gender identity by alternating she/he pronouns instead of imposing a colonial binary system on them. The film draws on archival NFB footage of the Prairies and images of contemporary urban settings as a backdrop for Woman Dress’s own story. It is a powerful act of reclaiming history and present-day space for Two Spirit people.
This film is a family story which has been passed down over generations. I wanted to have a traditional oral story about a 2 Spirit person to show my community that we have existed and been important to our communities from before contact. Oral storytelling has been used in court cases to prove historical land ties for Indigenous people, so this story means a lot to me in terms of re-establishing 2 Spirit historical presence on this land.
Thirza Jean Cuthand makes short experimental videos and films about sexuality, madness, queer identity, love and Indigeneity, which have screened in festivals and galleries internationally. She completed her BFA with a major in Film/Video at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in 2005 and her MA in Media Production at Ryerson University in 2015. She has performed at Live at the End of the Century in Vancouver, Performatorium in Regina, and 7a*11d in Toronto. She is a Whitney Biennial 2019 artist. She is Plains Cree/Scots, a member of Little Pine First Nation, and resides in Toronto, Canada.
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This film is part of the PrideFull Shorts Program, which is co-presented with Three Dollar Bill Cinema and QWOCMAP.
Three Dollar Bill Cinema fosters deeper community engagement by showcasing queer film programming, educational experiences, and social dialogue.
QWOCMAP uses film to shatter stereotypes and bias, reveal the lived truth of inequality, and build understanding and community around art and social justice. QWOCMAP creates, exhibits, and distributes high-impact films that authentically reflect the lives of queer women of color (cisgender & transgender), and gender nonbinary, nonconforming, and transgender people of color (of any orientation), and address the vital, intersecting social justice issues that concern our multiple communities. QWOCMAP’s vision nurtures filmmakers as artist-activist leaders for social change.
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