What exactly is memory? Is it a means of constructing one's existence? If so, how can memory be activated as a place out of which narratives are built?
If we were to regard film and video as a format capable of encapsulating memory in a form that can be open to public perception, what role could then be attributed to the creator? Might his/her position be perceived as the genuine truth? Or would their position be one in which they can wander through various realms of reality, seasoned with narratives and influenced by facts? At what point does historical reality become exaggerated and, consequently, transform into myth?
When considering the formation of indigenous identity in the world of cinema, we must address the topics through which it is realised. The theme of independent ethnography is that of research on how the personality of the contemporary indigenous person is formed, and what factors exert a positive or negative influence on its peculiar course of development. Taking into account the processes of self-reflection currently underway, we may state that the indigenous person has passed from being an object at which the camera is directed and the narrative (that of exotification) is projected onto, to attaining the level of a creator in their own right – one who is not only able to reflect directly on how this has affected their ethnic group, but also to reflect on the future and reproduce their own narratives about complex relationships while looking in from without, as well as the internal point of view (inside the ethnic problems of the small indigenous peoples of Siberia, specific intertribal relations, etc.). For the first time, the individual human being and their indigenousness are playing a priority position in such a context of events – where authentication is not only expressed by belonging to a given ethnicity, but in the possession of agency (of opportunity, power and/or identity) in order to express their own interpretations regarding the inexhaustible themes that revolve around colonialism, postcolonialism and decolonisation. It is vital to note that this combination is not only advantageous from the ethnographic angle, but is also rendered in the audibility and visibility of gender roles. The creation of new advanced platforms is increasing access for the voicing of historically non-priority voices – women's voices. The silencing of the female voice in the postcolonial world and its view in cinema has changed radically. Founders of the genre of reflexive ethnography such as Alanis Obomsawin and Merata Mita have been real pioneers in indigenous women's cinema. Their paths have not only opened up opportunities for future voices, but also erased the boundaries between the concepts of narrative and documentalism. Through the use of narrativisation (personalisation) of key historical events in conjunction with traditional knowledge, their films reflect the myths and legends of contemporary reality.
In this selection of films, the viewer is invited to pay attention to complex intertribal relationships and the ways in which these stories are told from the female point of view. Presented in roughly chronological order, the viewer is given the chance here to follow current problems in the context of the particular timeframe within which these films were made.