Alanis Obomsawin caps off a cycle of five films, seven years in the making, about Indigenous children’s rights in Canada with Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger. It’s one of the best acquisition titles at TIFF19.
Abenaki filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin’s 53rd Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger caps off a cycle of films, seven years in the making, about the struggle for Indigenous children’s rights in Canada. Jordan River Anderson was a child who lived all five years of his life in a hospital because of a jurisdictional dispute over if the federal or provincial governments would pay for his care. His story inspired a legal battle to ensure such a dispute never happens again, documented in Obomsawin’s 2016 film We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice. In Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger, we get to meet Jordan’s family on a deeper level but also other Indigenous families who have benefited from the change of law.
As in many of her best films, Obomsawin explores the effect of abstract political rules and dull bureaucracy on real people’s lives. And, as in her last film, Our People Will Be Healed (2017) we see how successfully changing these rules (a change in which We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice played an instrumental role) make a real impact on people’s lives. Running at a succinct 65 minutes, this is a perfect film to introduce international audiences to Obomsawin’s activist cinema. She not only raises problems, but seeks solutions, and is proud to showcase the results. Plus, you may never again see anyone as excited to see a bear as Obomsawin is in this film.
Jordan River Anderson, The Messenger is still seeking distribution in the US and UK.