An Indigenous Review of “The Light” at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival

Cover photo for the 20th imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.

“The Light,” is a music video which had its world premiere at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival on October 25, 2019. Directed by Tim Myles featuring singer-songwriter Indigo Villeneuve-Hollis, the music video depicts Indigo seeking revenge on her abusive ex-boyfriend with help from her two girlfriends — talk about girl power! The visuals in this 4-minute pop music video were stunning; shot at night in an industrial parking lot with some LED lights in the background mixed with heavy fog gave the backdrop a very mysterious atmosphere.

From Instagram user @itsindiebaby depicting herself looking down at her ex.

To give it some context, her ex is bound in the trunk of a car while she smokes a cigarette peering down at him, and when the scene changes, she is dancing with her friends with not a single care in the world. While this may seem like a very simple plot line, Myles has done an extraordinary job in subtly telling the story many Indigenous artists struggle with today through this powerful video.

When I arrived at the TIFF Lightbox cinema, I had not read about what I was seeing that day. “The Light” was part of four other short films being shown by different artists, and “The Light” was last to be shown. My initial response to this pop music video was how does this fit into the Indigenous theme of if I don’t see anything directly related to Indigenous people? But after grabbing a festival catalogue and reading through it, I realized that the director and writer were both Indigenous themselves. It was at that moment when their project meant so much more to me than just a story about a girl seeking revenge; it taught me how Indigenous artists can also be successful in modern times.

Photo by Brooke Bennett-Del Bono from TIFF Lightbox cinema 3 featuring all artists from the imagineNATIVE Originals short films.

Tim Myles is from the Miawpukek Mi’kamawey Mawi’omi reserve in Conne River, Newfoundland, and has since moved to Toronto as a writer/director. Indigo, who is Métis, reached out to Myles because of his aesthetic style without knowing they were both from Indigenous descent (some could call it fate that they were brought together to create this piece). Writing and directing a good pop song + video is no easy feat, and given my confused reaction on how is this Indigenous? only proves that Indigenous artists can create skilled works like any other artist can. Being an oppressed group in society, it is very hard to win over the public’s approval for any sort of art. Having Mi’kmaq ancestry myself, when I found out their anonymity, I felt humbled and enjoyed the video even more… yet we live in a time where there are still people who would be repulsed by this discovery. Tim Myles and Indigo’s music video not only targets the mass audiences who attend the imagineNATIVE Film Festival, but sceptics who criticize Indigenous art — ICONIC!

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