Candid Cinema

TIFF ’22: ‘We Are Still Here’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

The world is made up of stories that all stem from history within communities. In We Are Still Here, 10 Indigenous filmmakers come together to share stories in this anthology film. This feature is in response to the 250th anniversary of a historically celebrated colonizer’s invasion of their land. Each filmmaker shared their stories from Australia to New Zealand to the Pacific Islander Nations. The structure of this anthology film highlights the important moments that create emotional depth for viewers to resonate with each filmmaker. Even though it feels like you haven’t stayed with the characters long, the obstacles they face make an impact. The placement of stories flowed into each other as the animated segments were edited at the beginning of each new story. 

The animation was able to show different Indigenous perspectives and their relationship with other communities. To preface each story the animation would symbolize how Indigenous people felt about how they’ve been treated over time. There were stories from different periods to show that they have a place on this land and have remained resilient in the face of racism and oppression. The title of this feature anthology is powerful because of the many stories highlighted that place their hardships at the center. They started at the beginning when the Sheriff would come onto their land and just take what they wanted without even thinking. And then, in the end, they decided to bookend the feature with a modern-day run-in with the police. 

Indigenous people have adapted and grown as a community during these obstacles, while the police force has remained the same. These filmmakers showed that no matter the period, police have always been against Indigenous lives and have not changed. Further showing that they are still here and this is still their land no matter what. There are stories about Indigenous women and their entirely different experiences within and outside of their community. How they have been seen by others over time and how they too have struggled with their identity. One story, in particular, explored Indigenous men during the war in 1917 and how they fought for this land, but are not seen as equals. Although this anthology has many stories, some will resonate with others. 

We Are Still Here has many voices from filmmakers who have used this medium to express their feelings about history. The title of this anthology feature is impactful because of how each story unfolds. They have each faced some form of hardship and these filmmakers have looked deep within their history to show that they are still standing. Through this collection of stories, audiences will be able to connect to each character because of the importance placed on identity, self-love, family relationships and acceptance. History will always be seen through different perspectives and cinema is a medium that can authentically show them all without fabrications. 

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