The Children Have to Hear Another Story: Alanis Obomsawin

April 7, 2023 - August 7, 2023

Alanis Obomsawin at Mariposa Rock Festival, 1970, Courtesy York University Libraries, Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Toronto Telegram fonds, ASC05824


[Image Description: A black and white photograph of Alanis Obomsawin on stage. She is seated and wearing a floor length floral-print dress. Her hair hangs in two long braids over her shoulders. She holds a large hand drum, her right hand ready to play. The texture on the drum’s surface is emphasized by the grain of the film; it glows like a full moon. A microphone is positioned in the foreground.]

Abenaki filmmaker and activist Alanis Obomsawin was born into a dark period of Indigenous history when options for social and political agency were radically and systemically foreclosed. Despite this, she managed to consistently access public platforms to advance Indigenous concerns and tell Indigenous stories. Her integrity and commitment have made her a revered and beloved figure within Indigenous communities and celebrated in Canada and internationally.

Over the course of five decades, she has created a model of Indigenous cinema that privileges the voices of her subjects and challenges core assumptions of the world system created by colonialism that we all now inhabit and contend with. The Children Have to Hear Another Story reveals how Obomsawin achieved what she did and what it has meant for her to do so. In a survey of the breadth of her lifework from the 1960s to the present, this exhibition demonstrates her remarkable achievements in education, music, documentary cinema and activism that have mobilized Indigenous voices and ideas to transform society.

Visitors are encouraged to bring wired headphones to access audio content throughout the exhibition.

Organized by Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Art Museum at the University of Toronto and the Vancouver Art Gallery, in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada and through the generous support of Canada Council for the Arts and CBC/Radio-Canada. Curated by Richard Hill, Smith Jarislowsky Senior Curator of Canadian Art, and Hila Peleg.

Generously supported by:

Larry and Maureen Lunn

Indigenous Cultures Program Partners:

June Harrison via West Vancouver Foundation

Presented in Collaboration with:
Cooperation Partner:
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Buy Now

Alanis Obomsawin: Lifework

The publication includes illuminating essays exploring Alanis Obomsawin’s practice and mission as well as personal commentary from collaborators, archival material, and photographs from the filmmaker’s personal life and professional practice. As Obomsawin approaches her ninth decade of life—fifth behind the camera—this beautifully illustrated record of her astounding body of work is an inspiring celebration of the power of film to change the course of history.

Edited by Richard William HillHila Peleg and Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Contributions by Karrmen Crey, Richard Fung, Monika Kin Gagnon, Candice Hopkins, Jessica L. Horton, Elizabeth Povinelli, Lisa Steele, and Jesse Wente

340 pages
9.75 x 12 inches
ISBN 9781550548990