À Wemotaci, en 2001, Manon Barbeau scénarise un long-métrage de fiction avec des jeunes atikamekw. Leur potentiel créatif et leur grand sens de l'image la touchent. L'isolement et la détresse de certains d'entre eux aussi. Quelques années plus tôt, à Québec, dix jeunes de la rue, souvent rebelles, toxicomanes ou judiciarisés, ont collaboré de façon extraordinaire à la scénarisation et à la réalisation de L'armée de l'ombre. Eux aussi l'ont profondément émue. Pour la réalisatrice, c'est au cœur même de ces rencontres qu'a pris racine le Wapikoni mobile.
Pour offrir à plus de jeunes un lieu de rêve sans consommation, de rencontres entre pairs, d'expression, d'apprentissage, d'échange et de valorisation, elle a depuis consacré temps et énergie à élaborer ce projet qui lui est si cher. Très tôt, l'Office national du film lui a accordé sa collaboration et son soutien. Puis, d'autres précieux partenaires ont pris part à l'aventure.
Un studio ambulant
Le 17 juin 2004, le rêve devient réalité : le Wapikoni mobile prend la route pour la première fois. Depuis, il procure à des jeunes sans cesse plus nombreux la possibilité de s'exprimer en réalisant, seuls ou en groupe, des films ou des enregistrements musicaux.
Des studios permanents
Dans la foulée de ses escales, un premier studio Wapikoni permanent est officiellement inauguré, en janvier 2006, à Wemotaci. Au moment d'écrire ces lignes, d'autres communautés s'apprêtent, elles aussi, à mettre sur pied leur propre studio permanent. L'objectif ultime de la Corporation du Wapikoni mobile? Une série de studios formant la première coopérative de production audiovisuelle autochtone. À suivre!Pour l'information complete, allez sur le site de Wapikoni
Wapikoni Mobile is a motorised motion picture training and production studio that has been touring Quebec, Canada's Aboriginal communities since June 2004. Initiated in the Quebec region by Productions des Beaux Jours and the National Film Board (NFB), the Wapikoni Mobile project trains young Aboriginals living on reservations in film-making techniques. The goal is to help break through the isolation that young Aboriginals can experience, enabling them to develop their creativity and acquire new skills relating to cinematography.
The Wapikoni Mobile was designed to give Aboriginal youth a chance to depict their world through film. The idea is to equip these young people with the skills to express, and be recognised for, their artistic talents. The training and production process itself is also meant to facilitate communication between young people living in similar circumstances - but in different communities (on different reservations) - thereby hopefully encouraging them to leave their usual framework of life and open themselves up to their community...and beyond. In short, film is a tool for encouraging youth to express their dreams and experiences through images and sound.
Concretely, the programme features an onboard (mobile) recording studio, digital cameras, editing stations, and a projector. This mobile/travelling set-up enables organisers to travel to remote reservations, reaching Aboriginal youth on their own terms and within their own contexts/experiences. To that end, youth involvement is key. "To be visited by the Wapikoni Mobile a community must meet two requirements: it must obtain the support of the band council and appoint a coordinator, who sits on the Wapikoni Mobile's Board of Directors and acts as a liaison with the participants. The Aboriginal young people thereby participate fully in the project."
Participants are supported through training and mentoring at each stage by professional guides who provide hands-on training in audio and film techniques (e.g., cinematographic writing and technical aspects of camera operation and sound recording); however, creation is always left to the young Aboriginal screen writers.
Once the motorised training programme/vehicle has departed, youth-to-youth communication is fostered via the internet. The goal is to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) to facilitate creative exchange by young Aboriginal artists. The Wapikoni website (French language only) is one means of sharing young filmmakers' photographs, perspectives, and projects.
In April 2005, the mobile film and music production studio set off from Montreal to tour the 6 Aboriginal communities it had visited in the last year - Pikogan, Kitcisakik, Lake Simon, Atikamekw de Wemotaci, Manawan, and Opitciwan - as well as a new one. Three film categories emerged within the 6 original Aboriginal communities visited: video-clips, documentaries and "coups de gueule" (pieces that aim to blow the whistle on a situation). Most creations are of approximately 5 minutes in length. Among the subjects explored by the young filmmakers are deforestation due to the exploitation of forests, an account of a young person who becomes a quadriplegic in a traffic accident, an account of a young fashion designer who comes back to live in the community, and the suicide of a loved one. Mobile works were entered in several Montreal film festivals; one of the productions went to Europe.
This project originated with Manon Barbeau, a filmmaker who "is sensitive to Aboriginal peoples and cultures and has a lot of experience working with young people. While shooting a work of fiction in an Aboriginal community in northern Lanaudière, Manon was able to utilize the leadership skills of Wapikoni Awashish, a young woman who acted as an intermediary with members of the Conseil des Jeunes de Wemotaci." When Wapikoni, considered a role model for entrepreneurship in her community, died in a road accident in 2002, Manon proposed the development of a mobile studio project to the National Film Board in memory of Wapikoni Awashish.
One person associated with the project explains that "One of the major successes of the Wapikoni Mobile is its impact on the community. Even though, in the long run, the project aims at the acquisition of communication and digital tools by Aboriginal communities, the Wapikoni Mobile is of special interest because it shows young people and the community that they can undertake projects of any kind, and because it enables them to create links between Aboriginals and non-Aboriginals during the distribution and public presentation of their productions." Further, "There is a great impact on people who see these productions. Within the communities themselves, there is an immediate awareness of phenomena such as alcoholism and suicide. Following this comes an empowerment of band chiefs and members of the community. The band chiefs are also very proud of the productions, filmed on their locations, to the point that they always have a cassette with them that they are prepared to show at any opportunity."
Productions des Beaux Jours and the National Film Board (NFB), with some funding from the Multiculturalism programme. Additional support from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada, Human Resources Development Canada, Canadian Heritage, Industry Canada, Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and Justice Canada.
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Tel: (514) 283-3830
Productions des Beaux Jours and the National Film Board (NFB), with some funding from the Multiculturalism programme.
Email from Alejandro Gomez to La Iniciativa de Comunicacion on January 28 2005; June 17 2004 NFB Press Release (French language only); September 27 2005 NFB Press Release; and email from Ga
Placed on the Communication Initiative site December 15 2005
Last Updated February 14 2006
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