Jeff Barnaby Shorts

Jeff Barnaby Shorts

classified 18

Jeff Barnaby: The Art of Forgetfulness

Shorts package

Sat 27 July 11:30

Cinema 2, Watershed

Jeff Barnaby, Jeff Barnaby, Jeff Barnaby, Jeff Barnaby
46 mins, 2004, Canada
Primary language

Drawing on the power of genre to navigate the settler colonial dystopia, the short films of Mi’gmaq writer/director Jeff Barnaby set him apart as an Indigenous filmmaker like no other.

In rejecting what he decried as ‘drum and feather’ representations of Native survival, Barnaby’s short films instead embraced the allegorical potential of fantasy, horror and science fiction as a powerful tool of Native resistance.

In the fine Canadian tradition of Body Horror, Barnaby’s early shorts are rooted in very specific allegories relating to colonial trauma and genocide. In From Cherry English (2004, 11 mins) a young Mi’gmaq man’s romantic encounter prompts a hallucinogenic ancestral encounter, and the recovery of a lost language. In The Colony (2007, 23 mins), a Mi’gmaq logger’s chainsaw injury prompts an increasingly bloody descent into Kafkaesque surrealism, whilst File Under Miscellaneous (2010, 7 mins) sees a spiritually exhausted Mi’gmaq man visit a near-future transplant clinic to swap his ‘red’ skin for white.

Made in between his two features, Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013) and Blood Quantum (2019), Bleed Down [aka Etlinisigu'niet] (2015, 5 mins) offers a masterful deconstruction of the myth of a fair and just Canada. Reworking the archives of the National Film Board, and featuring music by Inuk legend Tanya Tagaq, the ultimate message of Barnaby’s work is made crystal clear: We are still here.

Followed by a discussion hosted by strand co-curators Adam Murray (Bristol Black Horror Club) and Stephen Morgan (University of Bristol), who will discuss the life, work and legacy of this vital (and much missed) voice in contemporary First Nations cinema.

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