In Spring 2017, Planet in Focus visited Attawapiskat, where high school youth will participate in a two week long, hands-on filmmaking workshop. During the lab, students at Vezina Secondary School created short films and told their own environmental stories.

Led by Indigenous instructors and filmmakers with deep ties to the Attawapiskat community, this workshop was inspired by the 2015 Planet in Focus Best Canadian Feature Film After the Last River by Victoria Lean, which exposes the effects of diamond mining in Attawapiskat. Many community members attended the screening and spoke with us, planting the seeds that brought this project to fruition.

The North South Eco-Film Lab will encourage dialogue, foster understanding and deepen connections between Indigenous youth in the North and young people in the South. There will be a community screening of the films after the program in Attawapiskat, and we look forward to sharing the shorts at the 18th Annual Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival in October.

Thanks to individual donors, we were able to raise $5,500 through our crowdfunding campaign!

100% of donations raised go toward the purchase of six iPads, which will stay in the community as filmmaking resources for youth, as well as travel for the filmmakers to the community.

Jules Arita Koostachin

Cree from Moshkekowok territory, and a member of Attawapiskat First Nation, Jules was born in Moose Factory, Ontario where she was raised by her Cree grandparents, and her mother. In 2010, she completed graduate school at Ryerson University in Documentary Media where she was awarded an Award of Distinction and an Academic Gold Medal for her thesis documentary film Remembering Inninimowin. She is currently a second year PhD student with the Institute of Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. Her educational and arts practice endeavours address environmental and Indigenous issues. She has obtained grants from Arts Councils for her works: Words for my Daughters, Alive with Breath and Broken Angel which won Best Fresh Voice at the Female Eye Film Festival.

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Rik Sokolowicz

Rik Sokolowicz is a self-proclaimed Swiss Army knife of production. Producer, film maker and professor, he has spent the past three decades honing a long list of skills from photography on a national award winning, environmental program to producing top comedy acts live to 68 Cineplex venues across Canada. His production range extends from broadcasting live, off-track wagering in the 80’s, to shooting full length motion pictures in today’s digital workflow. Rik enjoys sharing what he’s learned, having trained photojournalists for CTV Northern Ontario and teaching animation and special effects to cinematography students at Canadore College in North Bay. Rik is presently freelancing his skill set to several projects from feature length documentaries to short films and spends quiet time writing about himself in third person.

Vicki Lean

Director Vicki Lean was born in Peterborough, Ontario and spent most of her childhood in the Kawarthas where her parents ran a field station as part of the National Water Research Institute. With the belief that film and the arts are crucial in fostering dialogue and awareness, Vicki developed a passion for film and new media production and obtained a Joint Honours B.A. in Cultural Studies and International Development, MFA in Film Production and MBA in Arts and Media Management. Her debut feature documentary, After the Last River, examines the complex relationship between the Attawapiskat First Nation, De Beers and multiple levels of government. The film aims to support conversations about a more just and sustainable Canada and has been screening in First Nations communities, colleges, schools and in festivals across Canada, including Planet in Focus (winner of Best Canadian Feature) and DOXA (Winner of the Nigel Moore Award).

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Jordana Aarons, Planet in Focus

Former Executive Director of Planet in Focus and resident of Norman Jewison’s prestigious Canadian Film Centre and the National Screen Institute of Canada, Jordana Aarons has produced award winning dramatic and documentary films. Some highlights include the films Tongue Bully, in competition at Sundance; Adam Avenger, awarded the Golden Sprocket at TIFF Sprockets (TIFF Kids); and the climate change docs The Polar Explorer and The Antarctica Challenge, winning numerous international awards, and broadcast domestically by the CBC. Jordana co-produced Stage to Screen, six short films celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Elgin & Winter Garden Theatres premiering during TIFF 2013. The films all enjoyed impressive festival runs. In particular, Danis Goulet’s Wakening screened as part of TIFF’s Opening Night Gala, in competition at Sundance, at Berlin presented by ImagineNative and winner of ReelWorld’s Best Short Award, and Jeremy Ball’s The Archivist, which was invited to the Cannes Film Festival as part of Telefilm Canada’s Not Short on Talent program.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of:

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