Celebrate Pride Month with these short alumni films + intro from Ryan Cooper

We originally intended to publish this piece earlier in June. However, our website unexpectedly went down. In an effort to bring Ryan’s story and these films to our community, we posted this item on Facebook instead. Now we’re up and running again, we’re making this post available here.

In celebration of Pride Month throughout June, the NSI team is proud to showcase four short films from our alumni. Spanning several decades, the stories told in these films offer unique perspectives on important themes. All films were made through NSI training programs.

Ryan Cooper (Wilson) – a graduate of CBC New Indigenous Voices and NSI IndigiDocs – introduces the films.


Ryan Cooper

I’m an Ojibwa Two-Spirit man from Treaty One Territory, Peguis First Nation. And I make movies.

As an Indigenous Two-Spirit filmmaker, making films in some way, shape or form is highly infused with my Two-Spirit Indigenous identity. I use filmmaking, and viewing films, as a way of healing, as a way of making peace with difficult decisions, a way of creating knowledge about the vast perspectives from the Two-Spirit and LGBTQ communities.

Two-Spirit / LGBTQ films are so highly needed! I want Two-Spirit / LGBTQ youth to see themselves on the television, on streaming services, on every multimedia platform. Growing up I had no resources to figure out who I was, what I was, and who I wanted to be.

I remember seeing the first film that completely resonated with me – it was Fire Song by Adam Garnet Jones and it changed my life! It helped shape the stories I know are missing in the world – like the humour from the amazing Preston in Big Momma, the gentleness of Sheila Jordan’s film Kathleen’s Closet, the resilience and history of the Indigenous trans community in the incredible film You Will Go Home, and the truth we all have to admit to ourselves like the character Danny in Silver Road.

I am so excited NSI is bringing you these four films showing the different perspectives of the Two-Spirit / LGBTQ identity. I hope youth and adults alike may have the same opportunity to resonate with these four incredible films and see themselves the way I did in Fire Song.


Big Momma

Big Momma | Documentary, 10:47, English, AB and BC, 2019 | Director: Caitlyn Pantherbone | Producer: Damien Eagle Bear 

Big Momma follows an Indigenous and Two-Spirited aspiring comedian, musician and dancer preparing himself for his first big show as a stand-up comic.

Created through NSI IndigiDocs.

Kathleen’s Closet

Kathleen’s Closet | Drama, 13:13, English, BC, 2005 | Writer/director: Sheila Jordan | Producer: Diana Wilson

An unconventional hospice nurse develops a bond with her nearly comatose patient by helping her connect with a long-mourned love.

Created through NSI Drama Prize.

You Will Go Home

You Will Go Home | Drama, 7:23, English, MB, 2018 | Writer/director: Rhonda Lucy | With: Damian Frazee, Cynthia Murdock

A young trans woman makes the courageous and difficult decision to leave a toxic and abusive relationship by drawing from the strength of her ancestors and the knowledge that she deserves love and respect.

Created through CBC New Indigenous Voices.

Silver Road

Silver Road | Drama, 13:00, English, ON, 2007 | Writer/director: Bill Taylor | Producer: Elise Cousineau

Lifelong friends Danny and Mark struggle with the awkwardness of saying goodbye the night before Danny leaves for university in the city.

Created through NSI Drama Prize.

Fire Song (trailer)

Fire Song – mentioned by Ryan in his intro – was written and directed by NSI grad Adam Garnet Jones (NSI Storytellers, NSI Diverse TV Director, Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program). Laura Milliken (Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program) was producer/executive producer.

Shane, a gay Anishnabe teenager living in Northern Ontario, struggles to support his family after his sister commits suicide. If he fails, he will be forced to choose between keeping the family home or saving his future.

Fire Song was accepted to the Telefilm Canada Micro-Budget Production Program (now Talent to Watch) in 2014 after being nominated by NSI. The film had its world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival in 2015.


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