Quick stats about the movie

On a summer day in the 1950s, a native girl watches the countryside go by from the backseat of a car. A woman at her kitchen table sings a lullaby in her Cree language. When the girl arrives at her destination, she undergoes a transformation that will turn the woman’s gentle voice into a howl of anger and pain.

In a place like this, there aren’t many chances to be a kid. But, when no one’s watching …

A residential school musical.

Produced with a grant awarded by bravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), a division of Bell Media Inc.

Creative team

Writer/director: Lisa Jackson
Producers: Lori Lozinski, Lauren Grant

Director’s statement

Lisa Jackson says:

Savage comes out of an initiative of the imagineNATIVE film festival in Toronto called The Embargo Collective.

The festival selected seven international indigenous filmmakers and brought us together to discuss our work, the creative challenges we were facing and – ultimately – assign obstructions to each other for the making of a short film. Being a documentary filmmaker, I was assigned a musical that would include heavy metal, set decoration and working with both actors and non-actors.

For all of the filmmakers, there was a universal theme of patience and no English allowed. We premiered the films on October 17, 2009 at the festival’s 10th anniversary.

Savage is my response to the challenge.

I used my ‘obstructions’ to bring a fresh take (at times even a humorous one – yes, there are zombies), on Canada’s residential school history, which, sadly, is still unknown to many Canadians.

As in my first short film Suckerfish (which looks at my own history with my mother and native identity), with Savage I’m trying to subvert stereotypes about ‘native issues’ and use an unconventional approach to get underneath preconceptions and deliver an emotional experience.

My mother was a residential school survivor who was taken away at age five and I’ve always known I would work to bring a deeper awareness of this part of Canada’s history to light. To that end I’m writing a feature film on the subject and am immersed in historical research. This short musical is a stand-alone ‘gesture’ inspired by the subject I feel so passionately about.”

About Lisa Jackson


With a background in documentary, including acclaimed short Suckerfish and the CTV W5 Presents 1-hour Reservation Soldiers, award-winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson expanded into fiction with Savage, which won a 2010 Genie award for Best Short Film. Playback Magazine named Lisa one of 10 to Watch in 2012 and her work has played at festivals internationally, broadcast on CBC, CTV, Bravo!, Knowledge, SCN, and APTN, and is used extensively in educational and community settings.

Recent films include the 35mm fiction short Parkdale (2011), completed as part of the Canadian Film Centre’s prestigious Directors’ Lab, and Pow.Wow.Wow, a steampunk outerspace fancy dance music video for Cree cellist Cris Derksen. Just heading into the festival circuit are How A People Live, a 1-hour documentary on the 1964 forced relocation of BC’s Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw people and a short performance-based film Snare, the short(er) version of which premiered at imagineNATIVE in 2012. Current projects span documentary and fiction, and include her first feature script Mush Hole.

Lisa’s films have garnered numerous awards and in 2004, she won the inaugural imagineNATIVE Alliance-Atlantis Mentorship Award, in 2005 the Vancouver Arts Award for Emerging Media Artist, and in 2012 the ReelWorld Festival named her a Trailblazer.

She is Anishinaabe, has a BFA in Film Production from Simon Fraser University, is a popular speaker and workshop leader, and lives in Vancouver.

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