You Are on Indian Land

You Are on Indian Land

Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell | 
Canada |
 1969 | 
36 minutes


On December 18, 1968, members of the Akwesasne Mohawk community blockaded the international bridge near Cornwall, Ontario. The intent was to bring public attention to treaty violations by the Canadian government. A young Mohawk chief named Mike Mitchell narrates throughout, explaining that things got off to a rocky start when no one remembered to bring scotch tape to post notices of the blockade. As the day unfolds, the local RCMP detachment arrives, discussion takes place, and the lines are drawn.

Visceral, immediate, and possessed of direct-cinema aesthetic and power, the film places you in the heat of the moment. As the cops manhandle women in kerchiefs, and the camera is jostled in the action, Mike Mitchell describes the scene, “People shouted in Mohawk, ‘Don’t get mad! Don’t fight back!’” The people practice passive resistance, and try to make their point about the lawlessness of the Canadian government, while little kids take up an impromptu rendition of “We Shall Overcome.” One of the most poignant and powerful works to come out of the Challenge for Change and the Indian Film Crew (IFC), You Are on Indian Land was originally attributed to director Mort Ransen, but in the previous year, with Ransen’s urging, credit was given to Michael Kanentakeron Mitchell. -DW

Screening With
Conor McNally | 
Canada |
 2017 | 
40 minutes
Justice Forum Panelist

Conor McNally

Conor McNally is Métis and based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Bypassing formal film training, Conor creates works though a combination of instinct, hands-on trial and error, and a keen ability to make friends who are talented and helpful. He has made numerous short films, with his most recent being ôtênaw (2017). Conor McNally is a proud father, a consummate garlic grower, and a yerba mate connoisseur.

Justice Forum Panelist

Mort Ransen

Mort Ransen is best known for the feature film Margaret’s Museum (starring Helena Bonham Carter) which he directed, co-wrote and co-produced for his company, Ranfilm, in 1995. It has been seen around the world after winning awards at major festivals, including Best Film at the San Sebastian Film Festival. In Canada it won six Genie Awards out of eleven nominations, including Best Actress (Bonham Carter).

Ransen began his career as an actor after studying with the legendary American teacher Peggy Furey. He acted briefly and directed on stage before turning to film in 1961, when he joined the directing staff of the National Film Board of Canada. Despite his background in drama, most of his early films were documentaries, such as the highly-successful Christopher’s Movie Matinee, which was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

His first short film drama, No Reason to Stay brought awards from the U.S., Europe and Latin America and a special jury prize from The Montreal International Film Festival. It was followed by the full length romantic comedy Falling Over Backwards (starring Saul Rubenek) and ”The Circle”, shot in New York, a television drama on drug addiction, starring Don Francks, and Bayo shot in Newfoundland, with Ed McNamara and Patricia Philips. He also directed the Gemini-nominated documentary Ah the Money, the Money, the Money, produced for the NFB about the logging conflict on Saltspring Island (British Columbia) where Ransen makes his home. 

He has a life-long interest in First-Nations issues, and was honoured to work on the crew of Mike Kanentakeron Mitchell’s wonderfull You Are On Indian Land.  Now he's happily too old to make films.