N.S. filmmaker hopes to inspire Indigenous representation with coming-of-age film


TORONTO — Two-spirit filmmaker Bretten Hannam says they hope their new film “Wildhood” will inspire and open doors for more movie makers to show the lives Indigenous people in the LGBTQ community, but also encourage viewers to see parts of themselves in the characters. Debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival, “Wildhood” follows a mixed-race teenager and his half-brother as they run away from their abusive father and life in an East Coast trailer park, in search of the teen’s Mi’kmaq mother, who he previously thought had died. Phillip Lewitski stars as the two-spirit Link, Avery Winters-Anthony portrays Link’s younger half-brother Travis, and Joshua Odjick plays Pasmay, a pow wow dancer they meet along the way. Hannam is Mi’kmaq and two-spirit, a term used by some Indigenous peoples to describe their gender, sexual and spiritual identity. The filmmaker, who uses they/them pronouns, said the coming-of-age film took more than 10 years to make, in part because of industry resistance to the Indigiqueer storyline. They recalled facing criticism of the film’s LGBTQ elements in early pitch meetings. “I had actually let a few people read it and their response was never quite thrilled,” the 37-year-old said in a recent interview. The filmmaker grew up in Kespukwitk, N.S., in the southern part of the province where they still reside. They got their start in film after being exposed to it as part of an animation program when they were younger. Wildhood “becomes a very powerful story because of that journey to reconnect,” they said. “This one story is (about) knowing yourself, knowing who you are, knowing where you come from and knowing where you fit.”

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