Wapawekka

Josh, a hip hop artist, would rather be anywhere than with his dad on a final trip to their isolated cabin on their family’s traditional Cree territory in northern Saskatchewan.

As the gap between them becomes more apparent, so does the pull of a much greater force.

Creative team

Writer/director: Danis Goulet
Producer: Christine Kleckner

Director’s statement

Danis Goulet says:

Wapawekka is about the cultural disconnect between a son and his traditional Cree father based on my personal experiences growing up in Saskatchewan.

My inspiration for the film came from a location – Wapawekka Lake, a remote lake in northern Saskatchewan – where my family has owned a cabin on the lake for almost 30 years. I have been going there for as long as I can remember. It’s beautiful, untouched, completely silent and hasn’t changed much over the years.

With this film, I was trying to address the tension that lies in the cultural gap from one generation to the next, where the old and new collide.

My dad grew up on the land, hunting, trapping, speaking Cree as a first language and I live in Toronto and don’t speak much Cree at all. The story is tragic on one hand but I also tried to convey a sense of promise – a beauty in the way that culture evolves.

My shooting approach was inspired by neo-realist drama and cinema vérité documentary filmmaking.

At the time that I made Wapawekka, I was fascinated by the territory that exists between doc and drama and was especially intrigued by pairing down the filmmaking process and working with non-actors. So, I headed out with a small crew to my family’s cabin and spent the week with my family. Everyone in the film is either family or someone we know. The lead is my cousin Josh, a hip hop artist based in Saskatoon and the dad character is played by my own dad.

Making Wapawekka challenged all of my preconceptions of what filmmaking was supposed to be and it was a very liberating experience!”

About Danis Goulet

Danis-Goulet-headshot

Writer/director Danis Goulet’s short films have screened at festivals in Canada and abroad including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE and the Berlin International Film Festival.

Her work has been broadcast on CBC, Air Canada, APTN, ARTE and Movieola. She is a alumnus of the NSI Drama Prize course and the TIFF Talent Lab.

Danis (Cree/Métis) was born in La Ronge, Saskatchewan and now resides in Toronto.

4 comments

  1. Joan Beatty

    Enjoyed the film and could relate to the love of the land and nature that your father has. I too have a cabin on our trap line. Our family, including many nieces and nephews enjoy spending time there; along with their gadgets! Nature has its way of pulling you in! Enjoyed the Cree, written and spoken. Beautiful scenery! I have never seen your dad speak little!

  2. Laura Vilness

    I greatly enjoyed this. The visual really conveys the story (and Josh’s expressions) because the dialogue is sparse. Beautiful cinematography.

  3. Robin McLeod

    This is an excellent short film wish there were more like it. I know your dad he’s a good actor. Best of luck in your future in film.

  4. Peter Ruetters

    We need more of this.

Leave a comment