‘Because I’ve Been There’ triumphs at film festival

By on November 21, 2017
(From left to right) Wayne Kaboni, manager with the CNA, Sebastian Dexel, Wade Fountain, Jared David, Clinton Kaboni, Nikki Joe, Daphne McRae, Hannah Manuel, Amy Manuel, Connor Kaboni and Kristy Joe. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Joe).


It’s been a whirlwind month for a group of young indigenous filmmakers from the Nicola Valley.

A month ago, the group of 12 filmmakers learned that their short film, “Because I’ve Been There” had been accepted into the LA Skins Fest film festival, a week-long celebration of indigenous film in southern California. Even more remarkable, the group’s film was nominated for an emerging filmmakers award, only a year after coming together at the Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly’s Youth Multimedia & Arts Conference hosted at NVIT in 2016.

Earlier this week, the group returned home with some extra luggage and big smiles, as their film received the 2017 achievement in student filmmaking award from the international festival.

The award was icing on the cake of what was a fantastic experience for the youth group, which consisted of kids from 13 to 18-years-old.

“The trip was very busy from the beginning. We had the youth go to the Paramount Pictures tour. And so they got to see film and television work, walk on set and sound stages and meet the studio personnel,” said Kristy Joe, a program co-ordinator with the Citxw Nlaka’pamux Assembly.

The group at Paramount Pictures. (Photo courtesy of Kristy Joe).

The group was invited to be special guests at a screening of the new Marvel blockbuster, Thor: Ragnarok — which was directed by Taika Waititi, a New Zealander of Maori descent. Following the screening of the film, the kids were invited to a reception with people working in the movie industry, said Joe.

On Saturday, the group took in another multimedia film workshop, before heading out to the world-famous Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, where the festival’s awards dinner was being held.

Upon being announced as the winners of the student filmmakers award, Joe said the group couldn’t have been happier.

“They were actually so excited after they won the award. It is an incredible feeling, and of course parents were crying. It was a proud moment for these youths as well,” she said.

The trip was a triumph for the students and the CNA’s film program — but “Because I’ve Been There” is a film with a serious message behind it.

The short film tells the story of two young indigenous girls struggling with life at home and the hectic world that surrounds them; both expressing their pain in different ways. Despite their age, Joe said the students wanted to address the ever-present issue of high rates of suicide among indigenous teens.

The trip down to California was a first for Wade Fountain, a Grade 10 student at Merritt Secondary School who worked as a camera operator during production of the film.

The trophy that the group brought home. Photo courtesy of Kristy Joe

Touring the production sets in Hollywood was an eye-opening experience for the aspiring filmmaker. While winning the award was a highlight, seeing their film on the big screen at the Chinese Theatre brought “shivers down his back.”

“I was just doing it for fun — I didn’t actually know I would go to Hollywood,” said Fountain.

“Because I’ve Been There” was the first film produced at the summer film camp to have been accepted into a film festival — and Joe said the experience at the SKINS fest has given organizers plenty of ideas for future conferences.

Meanwhile, she plans to work with NVIT and local groups to organize a screening of the award-winning film in the Nicola Valley sometime in the near future.

“We’ll have to set something up — maybe at the NVIT lecture theatre — and we’ll get the community in to see it,” she said.

One Comment

  1. Beverley Campbell

    November 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Oh my goodness those kids can be proud of themselves, I hope Merritt realizes the honour that the kids have received, and the possibilities that something (even just the trip) opens up in the heads of these wonderful children and young adults.

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