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Cara Mumford

November 15, 2017

Cara Mumford (Métis / Chippewa Cree) is a filmmaker, writer, and collaborative artist originally from Alberta. Her short films have screened regularly at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, and toured throughout Australia and internationally with the World of Women Film Festival. In 2016/17, she worked with the National Film Board's Digital Studio on the development of an interactive futuristic website, and with Charles Street Video & imagineNATIVE to create a short film set in that future. This Tuesday, November 21, she will be speaking along with Sophia Park at Art Intersections: Imag(in)ed Futures at Gamma Space Collaborative Studio in Toronto.

1. Genealogy

As a lover of both research and family history, genealogy is pretty much an obsession where I forget to eat or sleep when I’m deep into it. Genealogy also provides great story ideas and helps my brain exercise the ability to exist in two time periods at once – a concept that I’m playing with in some of my current work.

My great-grandparents & great-aunt Vera

2. Dance

I have always loved dance. I took dance classes as a kid (ballet, tap, then finally decided on jazz) and only stopped training because I was accident prone and told by my doctor that I had to decide between horses and dance. Since I had my own horse at the time, who I had raised from when she was weaned, there was no way I was selling her, so I chose to keep riding competitively instead. However, I began including dance in my film work pretty early on as a way to bring a new kind of life and movement onto the screen, to elevate the story from the here and now, and to allow for another level of communication.

Christine Friday & Heryka Miranda in Ecstasy

3. BIPOC Sci-Fi & Futurisms

Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) write the kind of futuristic stories that I want to read. Stories that do not centre on whiteness or colonial concepts of science fiction, but explore less familiar ideas of what the future might hold. These stories often contain different notions of hope and different ideas of what constitutes a satisfying conclusion – like spirits choosing to remain in the trees as they burn up while the earth dies and how that is an expression of love for this planet. Science fiction, like dance, helps elevate a story from the here and now, allowing you to approach issues in a different way.

Migizikwe artwork by Jamie Whitecrow

4. Anishinaabemowin

Anishinaabemowin (the Anishinaabe language) is fascinating and reveals so much about connections within the worldview of the Anishinaabeg people (I am Metis of Anishinaabe descent and consider the Anishinaabeg people to be both my ancestors and my cousins.). The language itself contains a library of information about the land and the culture. You learn so much more than just a language when you study Anishinaabemowin. My studies are very early, but I can’t wait to learn more.

5. Trees

I have always loved trees, but it wasn’t until I worked with Leanne Simpson on the video for The Oldest Tree in the World that I really began to realize how fascinating they are. It started when I met the ecologist featured in the newspaper article that inspired Leanne’s song. He introduced me to the tree mentioned in that article: the oldest sugar maple in this region, older (and healthier) than the Comfort Maple in Niagara. I spent three seasons filming that tree for the video (I call her the grandmother tree); at which time I began reading about the communication networks of tree roots and fungi. I then collaborated on another project (I Remember: Stories from a 500 year old tree) with Joeann Argue using the extra footage from the tree sessions and began thinking about the concept of “tree time.” I now feel as if I have a relationship with this particular grandmother tree. She was the inspiration behind my futuristic film Red Card World: The Tree.

Still from Red Card World: The Tree featuring Christine Friday



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