It was recently announced that Ali Kazmi’s film, Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence, was awarded People's Choice at the 2022 Planet in Focus International Environmental Film Festival. It is also the only Canadian feature film chosen for this year’s prestigious International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA).
For the past 20 years, Planet in Focus has used film as a catalyst for public awareness, examination, and positive change in the ecological and social health of the planet. Over ten days, the festival showcased eighteen feature documentary films from around the world, including Kazimi’s intimate portrayal of Indigenous matriarchs working to revive traditional culture and their fight to save their ancient burial ground in British Columbia’s Slocan Valley.
Kazimi’s film examines how the Indian Act, colonialism, residential schools, and borders led to the Canadian government declaring the Sinixt People “extinct.” Nearly thirty years in the making, audiences are finally witnessing this powerful film. Kazimi began documenting this story in 1995 when Sinixt matriarchs first welcomed him to nk̓ʕáwxtən (Vallican).
“The People’s Choice Award is a tremendous honour given a range of brilliant and powerful films that were in Planet In Focus this year. It is also an affirmation that Canadians are willing to see and hear difficult truths about the decades long struggle of the Autonomous Sinixt and are just as moved and inspired by Sinixt matriarchs Eva Orr, Alvina Lum, and Marilyn James,” Kazimi says.
Ali Kazimi is a full Professor in the Department of Cinema & Media Arts, where he has also served as the Chair of the Department. In 2019, Kazimi was honoured with the Governor General’s Award for Lifetime Achievement in Visual and Media Arts for over three decades of ground-breaking work as a documentary and media artist whose work deals with race, social justice, migration, history, and memory.
His other films include Narmada: A Valley Rises (1994), Shooting Indians: A Journey with Jeffrey Thomas (1997), Continuous Journey (2004) and Random Acts of Legacy (2016).
Beyond Extinction is currently showing at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival. It is also making its international debut at the prestigious International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), which runs from November 9th to 20th. Beyond Extinction: Sinixt Resurgence has been selected to be included in this year's Frontlight Section, the only Canadian film to be chosen.
This premier-only section of the festival showcases a cohort of truth-seeking filmmakers, such as Kazimi, who do not compromise on stylistic integrity. Frontlight titles are chosen for their ability to reflect on the urgent political events around us– to be included in this cohort is an immense honour.
To learn more about the film and when it is available at a location near you, please follow Autonomous Sinixt on Instagram and Facebook.
You can find more information on Ali Kazimi on his website: https://alikazimi.ca/films/beyond-extinction/
Photo Caption: Marilyn James atnk̓ʕáwxtən. — Louis Bockner photo