Thursday, February 02, 2012

Take 5 with "Spirit of the Bluebird"

Xstine Cook, photo by Colin Way
As we gear up for the Oxford Film Festival 2012 to be held at the Malco Studio Theater on Feb. 9-12, 2012 and also at the Lyric Theater on Saturday, Feb. 11 as part of the Oxford Music Festival line-up where we will show music films, videos and a panel on music + film, we thought we might introduce you to some of the people behind the movies we can't wait to show you. For the full schedule and description of the films, visit

Meet Take 5 filmmaker, Xstine Cook, director and producer of “Spirit of the Bluebird”

Q: In 140 characters or less, describe your movie and why someone should see it.

A: Spirit of the Bluebird is an animated documentary in tribute to aboriginal Grandmother Gloria Black Plume who was brutally murdered by two men 12 years ago.  Her murderers walk free. This tribute to Gloria's bluebird spirit was made by spray painting animated images of a bluebird in flight on the walls of the garage where she was killed.  Cree artist Jesse Gouchey shot over 1800 images to make the remarkable animation, which includes full colour backgrounds as well as animated characters.  Gloria's daughter Kaily Bird and several of Gloria's relatives gave their voices and thoughts to the film, which became the film's voiceover.  Her nephew Jonathan Tall Man's singing formed the soundtrack.

Q: Biggest lesson learned in getting the film made? Best part in getting the film made?

A: Patience.  I really couldn't proceed without the family's involvement and blessing.  It took 11 years to make that contact.

Q: Tell us about you. What is your movie making background?

A: I come from a theatre background, and figured making a film was kind of like making a theatre show.  Which it kind of is, and mostly isn't at all.  Making the film is similar.  What you do with it afterward is a whole other planet.

Q: What's your dream distribution plan for the film?

A: Our dream is that CBC, APTN, and NFB will all broadcast it.  I guess for that matter, we'd love to have it screen widely in North America, as it's message is relevant to native and non-native people everywhere.  Need to learn a bit more about the market for short films in the US.

Q: What does the future hold in store for your film and for you?

A: We hope Bluebird continues to be accepted at festivals around the world (screened at over 40 so far), and continues to win recognition from our peers.  The film has won numerous awards, the most prestigious being Best Short Documentary at ImagineNATIVE Film and New Media Festival in Toronto, Best Animation at River's Edge Film Festival, and Best New Prairie Work at WNDX, amongst others.  The film screened at TIFF, and I reckon we spent more attending that amazing festival than we spent making the film.  We hope Bluebird keeps flying, spreading the message that more can still be done to eradicate racism against the indigenous people of the world.  Jesse and I are working on a new animated graffiti project, "Johnny Crow", which will be spray painted on outdoor surfaces, dealing with the warrior's lost role in society.

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