Focal Point: Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

Rachel Young

Outreach and Engagement Lead

At the National Screen Institute, we’re thrilled to celebrate our alumni and their accomplishments. Through Focal Point we aim to highlight significant milestones our alumni achieve with their projects and in their careers.

Congratulations to Lisa Jackson (Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program and associate faculty) who recently won the BMO-DOC Vanguard Award from the DOC Institute.

Lisa is an Anishinaabe (Aamjiwnaang) director, producer and multimedia artist. Her projects have screened internationally at SXSW, Berlinale, Hot Docs, Sundance and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Her documentary Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier took home the award for best documentary at the 2017 imagineNATIVE festival.

The Vanguard Award honours a mid-career filmmaker nominated by their peers for advancing the documentary craft and elevating the next generation of filmmakers.

“I have great respect and admiration for the documentary community, and this award means a tremendous amount to me,” said Lisa. “I love that the Vanguard Award supports those who bring innovation to the genre and provide leadership for those coming up.”

Lisa was presented the BMO-DOC Vanguard Award at DOC’s Annual General Meeting on May 11. In her acceptance speech, Lisa discussed the barriers she faced as an Indigenous person in the industry, and how she found belonging within the Indigenous film community.

“[My resilience and talent] is also due to an unbelievable community of filmmakers, documentary filmmakers and especially Indigenous filmmakers. The Indigenous film community is incredible,” Lisa said in her acceptance speech.

Lisa entered the Featuring Aboriginal Stories Program in 2008 with her first feature film Mush Hole based on the true story of her mom and aunts’ time in residential school in the late 1940s. At the time, the film didn’t find the support to move ahead. When Lisa launched her own production company in 2020, Door Number 3 Productions, she decided it was time to tell this story.

“Thankfully, things have changed and I’ve pulled that script out of the drawer, found I love it as much as ever, and am developing it into a feature animation for adults.”

Lisa strives to use her filmmaking and leadership platform to advance Indigenous screen sovereignty, educate up-and-coming filmmakers and help make the industry more accessible.

Recently, Lisa worked with eight filmmakers to produce Citizen Minutes – a collection of short films about civic engagement which streamed at Hot Docs 2021.

“The more we can demystify [producing] and share this knowledge, as well as create ladders for people to enter into this part of filmmaking, the more accessible and equitable the industry will be,” said Lisa. “I think there’s a part for all of us to play in levelling the playing field.”

This month, Lisa is starting production on her newest project Wilfred Buck – a hybrid feature on the Winnipeg-based Cree Elder and star knowledge keeper that will weave together his work today and his incredible life story. The film has already garnered praise by winning the $10K Canadian Forum Pitch Prize at the 2021 Hot Docs Industry Forum.

Congratulations on this recognition and honour, Lisa! Your incredible work continues to inspire and create positive change within the industry, and we can’t wait to see what comes next for you.

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