September 19, 2023 12:00 pm to September 19, 2023 1:00 pm back to events

201 Talks: Little Bird Q&A

Location: 201 Portage Conference Centre

201 Talks presents a Q&A with the cast and crew of the ground-breaking series Little Bird in honour of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.  Meet the film’s star, Darla Contois, along with one of the series’ Producers and Directors as they share how the series was made and the importance of Indigenous storytelling.

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Tanya Brunel is a Red River Valley Métis from southwestern Manitoba. Tanya has been developing and producing motion picture, television and digital media content with a focus on Indigenous stories since 2001. Her recent projects include the multiple award-winning films Juliana & The Medicine Fish and The Corruption of Divine Providence. She is currently producing Shaidan, a Canada/South Africa Treaty co-production. Tanya started as a production manager and line producer, working on multiple documentary series. She produced her first dramatic feature film entitled Mr. Soul in the fall of 2005. Prior to that, Tanya produced four seasons of Cool Jobs, a youth series which sought to demystify the workforce for Indigenous youth. She won a Blizzard award in 2000 for Best Children’s Program at the Manitoba Motion Picture Industries Association biannual awards for her work on the series. In addition to her work as a line producer, Tanya took a position as the performing arts coordinator with Manitoba Arts Network. During her tenure in this role, she increased Indigenous participation from performers and community presenters and implemented electronic block booking. In 2009, Tanya left the organization to concentrate on her growing family. In 2015, Tanya returned to developing and producing content for motion picture, television and digital media industries.

Darla Contois is a Cree-Saulteaux playwright from Winnipeg, Canada, whose home community is Grand Rapids Cree Nation in Manitoba. She studied theatre at Manitoba Theatre for Young People and at the University of Manitoba and is a 2014 graduate of the three-year Professional Training Program at the Centre for Indigenous Theatre. Darla plays the lead character of Esther Rosenblum, a young woman who was taken from her family as a young girl in the 60s Scoop in the Crave Original drama series Little Bird, marking her breakout from theatre into television acting. “When I first read the scripts for Little Bird, I was completely blown away by the content, by the heart of it, and by the writers’ ability to put together this story,” she said. “I just feel honoured and unworthy at times because the story is so monumental in terms of Indigenous story-telling.” Darla Contois’ first major theatre production, The War of Being Waged, opened to great acclaim in 2021 at the Prairie Theatre Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She wrote and directed the play that is deeply personal to her, drawing on her own life and family experiences. The War Being Waged has been called ‘a stunning piece of theatre, in which Darla Contois has created a story that is familiar, harrowing, compelling, nuanced, full of love, grace, and art.’ Darla has appeared most recently in Happy Place, directed by Thomas Morgan Jones, at Prairie Theatre Exchange Main Stage. Darla also self-produced her one-woman show entitled White Man’s Indian, which awarded her an emerging artist award presented by the Theatre Centre in Toronto in 2017. Darla lives in Winnipeg with her young daughter. She is represented by Tyman Stewart at The Characters Talent Agency.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is an award-winning filmmaker, writer, director, producer and actor. She of Sami (Norway) descent and is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, Blackfoot Confederacy) As a filmmaker, one of her prime focuses is activism and social justice for Indigenous people. Her films often focus on issues that directly relate to and affect Indigenous women and communities. She has received and been nominated for awards at various international film festivals and has been recognized for her work rooted in social justice. Most recently, her documentary film Kímmapiiyipitssini: The Meaning of Empathy won the award for Best Feature Length Documentary at the 10th Canadian Screen Awards in 2022. Tailfeathers co-directed The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open with Kathleen Hepburn. The film premiered at the 2019 Berlin Film Festival in the Generation program and had its Canadian premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. It was nominated for six Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Motion Picture, and won three. Tailfeathers shared the Canadian Screen Award for Best Director with Hepburn. The film also won the Toronto Film Critics Association’s $100,000 Rogers Best Canadian Film Award. Tailfeathers studied acting at the Vancouver Film School. She graduated in 2006 and then moved on to the University of British Columbia, where she would graduate with a degree in First Nations studies and a minor in women and gender studies in 2011.