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Netflix has given Anishinaabe filmmaker Jaime Wescoup $25,000 in film development financing to mark the U.S. video streamer passing the milestone of 1000 creators completing Netflix-supported film training programs in Canada.
“There’s no one telling these stories. And these stories need to be told,” Wescoup tells The Hollywood Reporter about his documentary in the works about two female First Nations reserve chiefs — chief Kyra Wilson of Long Plain First Nation and chief Angela Levasseur of the Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation.
Wescoup adds both women are role models and trailblazers in moving the yardstick of inclusion of young girls and women in First Nation communities in Canada. “This is something really special because it’s a story of strength and resilience. And both of these chiefs, as women, embody those traits,” he insists.
“Jaime has an important story to tell through the film he is developing and we’re thrilled this grant will help support him on that journey,” Stéphane Cardin, director of public policy at Netflix Canada, tells THR in a statement about Wescoup receiving development financing from the streamer.
Netflix’s funding for Wescoup’s project comes as the U.S. streamer looks to play a bigger role financially in the Canadian industry as traditional broadcasters lobby for U.S. streamers and social media platforms to become obligated to subsidize local Canadian film, TV and music products via Bill C-11, which awaits passage through the Canadian House of Commons.
Wescoup, a member of the Long Plain First Nation, completed a three-month training program at Winnipeg-based Nu Media Films, which offers filmmaker training to Indigenous youth from reserves across Manitoba. Nu Media Films president Jordan Molaro, an Anishishaabe/Metis filmmaker from the St Laurent Metis Settlement in Manitoba and Skowman First Nation, will executive produce Wescoup’s documentary project.
“We’re hoping this doc connects with people who have struggled with patriarchy in their community because in Canada it’s a male-dominated place when it comes to leadership,” Molaro said. Netflix Canada’s Cardin applauds the collaboration between Molaro and Wescoup.
“Jordan exemplifies giving back to his community through his tireless commitment to providing Indigenous youth with new training opportunities through the Nu-Media Program,” he added. Netflix has also supported professional training other Indigenous film and TV creators through partnerships with the imagineNATIVE Film Festival, the Indigenous Screen Office and Wapikoni.
Indigenous-themed or directed content to have streamed on Netflix in Canada includes the late Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Ghouls, Stephen S. Campanelli’s Indian Horse and Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, as well as the Indigenous TV crime drama Blackstone from veteran creator Ron E. Scott.
Netflix may also be looking for the announcement of its latest support for Canadian Indigenous creators to counter local indie producers and other cultural nationalists calling for U.S. tech giants and other foreign players to be subject to the same content expenditure obligations as traditional broadcasters.
That would compel U.S. digital giants that do business in Canada, like Facebook, Netflix and Spotify, to finance and market local Canadian content. Directing domestic revenues would in turn aim to help local Canadian creators get more of their product into the world market.
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