Film introduces audiences to prolific Anishinaabe storyteller and journalist, Tanya Talaga, as she recounts her journey in covering the mysterious, uninvestigated disappearances of seven Indigenous students who died or went missing in Northern Canada
Produced by Makwa Creative in association with Antica Productions, Spirit to Soar is available for worldwide distribution, outside of Canada, with Blue Ant International now and will join the distributor’s Fall Slate at Mipcom 2021
(Toronto, ON – August 9, 2021) – Global distribution group, Blue Ant International, has acquired the international licensing rights to Spirit to Soar (1 x 60’; HD), a documentary that follows prolific Anishinaabe storyteller and journalist Tanya Talaga, as she explores the systemic racism facing Indigenous peoples in the Northern Canadian town of Thunder Bay, Ontario. The documentary continues the story of her award-winning, non-fiction book Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death and Hard Truths in a Northern City, now available in Canada, the U.S., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and Poland, which brought international attention to the tragic deaths of seven Indigenous high school students that went uninvestigated between the years of 2000 and 2011. Produced by Makwa Creative in association with Antica Productions the film premiered at Hot Docs International Documentary Festival this past spring is slated to broadcast and stream on CBC and CBC Gem in Canada in Fall 2021. Spirit to Soar is now available for worldwide distribution, including French speaking Canada, with Blue Ant International.
“This documentary sheds light on a story that is based in Canada, but that has universal significance, as audiences around the globe reckon with systemic racism and cultural inequity,” says Solange Attwood, EVP, Blue Ant International. “Sharing Tanya’s personal journey as she explores the stories of the Seven Fallen Feathers from Thunder Bay adds to an incredibly crucial movement for reconciliation and change, especially given the discovery of thousands of unmarked graves of Indigenous children found at residential schools.”
“We created this film because we love our children, families and our communities. We are connected to the land and to each other. Every child taken from us is a blow to us all. We hope that by telling our stories, Canada will realize how resilient we are and how this country’s oppressive, colonial laws caused a legacy of harm. We must all work together to change that, for the good of all our children,” says Tanya Talaga, Director and Executive Producer, Makwa Creative.
Spirit to Soar, Mashkawi-manidoo bimaadiziwin, is a one-hour documentary inspired by Tanya Talaga’s book, Seven Fallen Feathers. The film looks at how the book came to Talaga when she travelled to Thunder Bay as a newspaper journalist on a federal election assignment and discovered the story of seven Indigenous high school students who had either died or gone missing from 2000 to 2011. This documentary examines the hard truths around the deaths of the seven students, truths the northern city of Thunder Bay and the country of Canada have long ignored; racism kills, especially when it presents itself as indifference.
The documentary is a closer look at what happened in the wake of the inquest into the student’s deaths and how families and communities have struggled to carry on while pursuing justice for their loved ones and equity for Indigenous people and their communities. Along the way, Talaga, cannot separate the story from her own as she revisits her maternal ancestral roots and tries to make sense of her role there. At its heart, the film is a story of the strength and bravery Indigenous youth face every single day when they walk out the front door and head to high school in a country that has tried to erase them. Along with the raw, emotional look at the inequity that Indigenous people continue to experience, Spirit to Soar also gives a hopeful message about creating generational change and shares powerful first-hand interviews with Indigeneous community leaders and youth whose resilience and hope provide a path forward.
Spirit to Soar is a follow up to Talaga’s book Seven Fallen Feathers, published by House of Anansi Press. Now available in seven countries, the book has won and been a finalist for several awards including: Winner of the 2018 RBC Taylor Prize; Winner of the 2017 Shaughnessy Cohen Prize for Political Writing; Winner of the First Nation Communities Read Indigenous Literature Award; Finalist for the 2017 Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction; Finalist for the 2017 Speaker’s Book Award; and Finalist for the 2018 B.C. National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction, It was also a Globe And Mail Top 100 Book and a National Post 99 Best Book Of The Year.
In addition to Tanya Talaga’s work on Spirit to Soar, the Mashkawi-manidoo bimaadiziwin: Spirit to Soar Fund has been established to to support local Indigenous youth living in and around Thunder Bay, Canada. Run by Makeway, a national charity building partnerships and solutions to help nature and communities thrive together, the fund helps local community organizations that aim to connect youth with support, language, family, tradition and Elders. The fund supports Neechee Studio, which runs arts and cultural programming to empower and encourage Indigenous youth through artistic expression and ancestral knowledge and Choose Life, which helps Indigeous children receive government funding towards assistance with mental health and wellbeing.
Blue Ant International is a leading worldwide distributor of high-quality, creative content that engages audiences worldwide and across multiple platforms. The company offers a full-service approach to production partners with sales operations in London, Toronto and Los Angeles. Blue Ant International has a growing slate of over 4,000 hours of premium content, including distinctive series and formats in five key genres including factual entertainment, specialist factual, high-impact documentaries, kids and family, and scripted. Blue Ant International also has one of the world’s largest offerings of 4K natural history content. Blue Ant International is a division of Blue Ant Media.