Please take note that the exhibition will open on September 26th, 2024.

My main interest all my life has been education because that’s where you develop yourself, where you learn to hate, or to love. – Alanis Obomsawin. 

Curated by: Richard Hill and Hila Peleg and, for the MAC, Lesley Johnstone

This groundbreaking exhibition is dedicated to the work of Abenaki documentary filmmaker, activist, and singer Alanis Obomsawin, one of the world’s most renowned Indigenous directors. Divided by decade, this retrospective presents a comprehensive overview of her cinematographic, visual, and musical work, enriched by archival documents and media coverage that lend new insight into her practice. The exhibition seeks to explain how Obomsawin achieved what she did and what it has meant for her to do so. To begin, the exhibition explores the motivations of this artist, who, from a very early age, showed tremendous will and courage. Next, it looks at the 1960s, when Obomsawin first emerged as an artist and Indigenous rights activist. Although the evolution of a society or an individual cannot be neatly slotted into distinct decades, the exhibition’s layout allows us to highlight the important changes in Obomsawin’s life and work over the years. Each section is organized around a selection of her most important films and accompanied by various artworks and documents for broader context.

About Alanis Obomsawin

One of the most acclaimed Indigenous directors in the world, Alanis Obomsawin came to cinema from performance and storytelling. Hired by the NFB as a consultant in 1967, she has created an extraordinary body of work—56 films and counting—including landmark documentaries like Incident at Restigouche and Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance. The Abenaki director has received numerous international honours and her work was showcased in a 2008 retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Alanis Obomsawin has consistently succeeded in using public platforms to advance Indigenous concerns and tell Indigenous stories. She has done this so effectively and with such integrity as a documentary filmmaker working at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) that she has become a revered and beloved figure among Indigenous communities and is celebrated both in Canada and abroad. Obomsawin has created a model of Indigenous cinema that privileges the voices of her subjects while challenging the core assumptions (economic, environmental, political, epistemic, ontological) of a world system created by colonialism that still exists and with which we must contend today.

Collaboration and partnerships

Alanis Obomsawin: The Children Have to Hear Another Story is organized by the curators Richard Hill and Hila Peleg and made possible through a partnership between Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Art Museum at the University of Toronto, and Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with the National Film Board of Canada and with the generous support of CBC/Radio-Canada and the Canada Council for the Arts.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada. 

The exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is curated by Lesley Johnstone and has been made possible with the support of the Government of Québec.