Inconvenient Indian, directed by Michelle Latimer
Inconvenient Indian, directed by Michelle Latimer

The National Film Board of Canada withdrew Michelle Latimer’s documentary Inconvenient Indian from active distribution and all upcoming festivals, including the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. The withdrawal comes after questions were raised about filmmaker Latimer’s claims about her Indigenous identity.

The documentary Inconvenient Indian is ‘An examination of Thomas King’s brilliant dismantling of North America’s colonial narrative, which reframes history with the powerful voices of those continuing the tradition of Indigenous resistance.’

In a Facebook post, Latimer apologized saying “Recently, questions have been raised about my ancestry. I understand these concerns given the long history of colonialism and violence in Indigenous Nations. Identifying and honoring the connection to our ancestries and the specific communities from which we come is complicated, but I am committed to being accountable to my community and moving forward in a good way.”

Michelle Latimer, director of Inconvenient Indian, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.
(l) Michelle Latimer, director of Inconvenient Indian, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

“As an artist of mixed Indigenous and settler ancestry, I know it is my responsibility to be clear and direct about my personal history and ancestral ties. This is a responsibility I have not only to myself, but also to my family, community, Indigenous filmmaking peers, and to all Indigenous people fighting for their sovereignty. I now realize that I made a mistake in naming Kitigan Zibi as my family’s community before doing the work to formally verify this linkage. I understand that there is an important difference between having this ancestry verified by the community of Kitigan Zibi and having it named and validated by members of my own family. I apologize and hold myself accountable for the impact this has had on the community of Kitigan Zibi and the Metis Nation.”

In its statement, the National Film Board of Canada said:

After engaging with the Indigenous participants who appear on screen, the NFB’s Indigenous Advisory Group, and industry partners, the NFB, 90th Parallel Productions and producer Jesse Wente have decided to withdraw Inconvenient Indian from active distribution.

The film will be withdrawn from all upcoming festivals, including the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Over the coming weeks and months, we will continue to dialogue and engage with Indigenous communities to explore an accountable path forward for the film.

The NFB is committed to the On-Screen Protocols & Pathways developed by imagineNATIVE and the guidelines of the Indigenous Screen Office, and remains dedicated to the principle that Indigenous stories must be told by Indigenous creators.

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