Choke

When Jimmy leaves his northern First Nations reservation to pursue a life in the city, he quickly realizes that urban life is not what he’d imagined. As he encounters the lost souls of the city, he is reminded that no matter how far you travel, you cannot escape who you are.

Inspired by the late, contemporary First Nations artist Kyle Morrisseau, Choke uses stop-motion animation to explore themes of urban isolation and the individual search for identity within modern society.

Produced with a grant awarded by bravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), a division of Bell Media Inc.

Creative team

Writer/director/producer: Michelle Latimer
Animator: Terril Calder

Director’s statement

Michelle Latimer says:

“I was first drawn to Kyle when I was researching a documentary about First Nations youth who are forced to leave their families and homes in the north in order to attend high school in the city. These students end up living in urban centres with families they don’t know. Many experience feelings of extreme isolation and depression.

Kyle was not unique in this way. He had trouble adjusting to this new lifestyle and he missed his family deeply. He ended up turning to painting as an emotional outlet. It was in his genes, as his grandfather was the world famous painter Norval Morrisseau. Kyle was showing great promise as an artist. People were calling him the next Norval. He was only 17 years old, but his work had a profound maturity and depth.

Tragically, the world will never get to experience the sheer talent that Kyle had. In 2009, Kyle was found drowned in a city river, not far from the high school he attended. Many believe he took his own life. That year, he was the third First Nation’s student in his community to do so.

I made this film in dedication to his life and in tribute to all of the northern students who will leave their homes in search of the opportunities that only education can provide.”

About Michelle Latimer

Michelle-Latimer

Michelle Latimer is a filmmaker, actor, and festival programmer. Most recently she directed and produced the short animated film Choke (2012 Genie Nomination: Best Animated Short Film). Choke premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and received the Sundance Special Jury Honorable Mention for Best International Short Film before going on to screen at such festivals as Cannes, Rotterdam Intl, and Oberhausen. Choke was awarded an American Pixie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Animation, and was named by the Toronto Film Festival as one of Canada’s Top Ten films of 2011.

Michelle produced the documentary Jackpot (2011 Gemini Nomination: Donald Britton Award for Best Social/Political Documentary), and is currently collaborating with acclaimed filmmaker Peter Mettler to develop a hybrid-genre feature film about the psychological effects of solitary confinement within Canada’s prison system. In 2009/10 she participated in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Talent Lab where she mentored under filmmakers, Danny Boyle and Miranda July. Michelle is the recipient of a Yorkton Festival: Golden Sheaf Award for Outstanding Emerging Filmmaker. She programs for both the Hot Docs and ImagineNATIVE Film Festivals.

As an actor, Michelle has performed in various award-winning theatrical and film/TV productions. In 2011 she starred in Theatrefront’s theatrical repertory production The Mill that went on to win four Dora Awards, including one for Best Independent Production. Most recently Michelle is playing a recurring role on Season 2 of APTN’s critically acclaimed drama Blackstone.

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