Filmmaker enjoys the North
Michelle Latimer looks for any excuse to come home.
Whether it’s a visit to a northern community for film and acting workshops or having her latest film open the Bay Street Film Festival in Thunder Bay last weekend, she enjoys coming home.
Latimer is a northern woman who lived in Timmins, Thunder Bay, Dryden and Kenora and worked all points in between. Her northern roots run deep. In fact, her twitter account is #Northerngrrrl.
The green-eyed Métis/Algonquin filmmaker, curator and actor can be seen in APTN’s Blackstone TV series, various CBC productions and independent films. As a youth she excelled in dance and auditioned to study dance and performing arts in Montreal, leaving home at 17. After graduation she returned north and worked for a pipeline saving enough money to take herself to southeast Asia for six months. She is an adventurer seeking stories to tell.
And she found a northern story to tell with her first film Choke.
The critically-acclaimed stop motion animation film was based on Kyle Morrisseau, a 17-year-old former Dennis Franklin Cromarty (DFC) High School student who drowned while attending school in Thunder Bay. She met Kyle, an artist and the grandson of iconic artist Norval Morrissea, while doing research a year before his tragedy.
“I was first drawn to Kyle when I was researching a documentary about First Nations youth who are forced to leave their families and homes in the north in order to attend high school in the city,” Latimer said. “These students end up living in urban centres with families they don’t know. Many experience feelings of extreme isolation and depression.”
The film went on to premiere at the prestigious 2011 Sundance Film Festival where it received the Special Jury Honorable Mention for Best International Short Film before screening at Cannes, Rotterdam, and Oberhausen.
“I believe film can heal. Storytelling for me, more than anything, is about my own expression of empathy for the stories I see,” she said.
Latimer’s heartfelt philosophy can be seen in her next film, Alias which screened last week at the Bay Street Film Festival in Thunder Bay.
The feature documentary follows aspiring rappers trying to escape the gangster life and is an in-depth look into the world of the streets, and the hustle known as the rap-trap.
Latimer was awarded this year’s Playbook ‘Top 10 Filmmakers To Watch’ at a ceremony during the Toronto International Film Festival ceremony last week.
But after the whirlwind of premieres, parties and gala openings, Latimer said the most important part of what she does is telling a story and like any good storyteller she hopes that it connects emotionally with her audience.
“I made Choke in dedication to (Kyle Morrisseau’s) life and in tribute to all of the northern students who will leave their homes in search of the opportunities that only education can provide,” she said.
Latimer said she looks forward to working with more youth and is available for filmmaking, acting and role model workshops.
For more information or to contact, please visit michellelatimer.ca
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