Indigenous Legend Tomson Highway opens Devour! The Food Film Fest

Featuring an expanded hybrid event with generous servings of in-person and digital programming

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With a fusion of food and film, Devour! has always been a hybrid festival, and this year just got a little sweeter. The 11th installment, celebrating Global Indigenous Cinema and Cuisine, will span 47 events over 6 days, running from October 19-24, 2021. Devour! is thrilled and honoured to announce our headlining special guest, Tomson Highway, Governor General award-winning
playwright, musician, and novelist.

“Glooscap First Nation has successfully collaborated with Devour! in years past to celebrate Mi’kmaq culture and bring this experience to visitors from around the world,” says Chief Sidney Peters of the Glooscap First Nation. “Devour! The Food Film Fest is an important vehicle for advancing awareness of Indigenous culture by celebrating First Nation communities, filmmaking, and food. I’m looking forward to our continued partnership as we celebrate Global Indigenous Cinema and Cuisine at Devour! 2021.”

Devour! 2021’s expanded hybrid format will serve up 45 films through a combination of in-person and digital screenings, including 19 feature-length films and 26 shorts. This includes the Opening Gala film Tampopo, directed by Jûzô Itami, and handpicked by headlining special guest, Tomson Highway. This screening will take place in-person at the iconic Al Whittle Theatre as a gala opening screening.

Following the film, Mr. Highway will participate in a post-film Q&A and interview in-person and live streamed, hosted by gastronaut, artist, seven-time Guinness World record-holder, Food Network personality and long-time festival friend and supporter, Bob Blumer. “What started out as a way to maintain our festival during uncertain times has grown into so much more,” says Lia Rinaldo, managing director of Devour! “This reimagined festival makes it possible for us to bring Devour! to an even wider audience than ever before.”

With eight incoming Indigenous chefs collaborating on multiple events throughout the week, Devour! will deliver a unique palette. On the film front, a focus on Indigenous cinema features perspectives, visuals, and stories from over 20 individual nations. Canada is well represented in the film category, with 5 features and 10 short films making up 32% of the Devour! Film line up!

Additional film highlights throughout the festival include:

Gather: Directed by Sanjay Rawal. From an ambitious Apache chef to a gifted Lakota high school student, Gather follows the stories of natives on the
frontlines of a growing movement to reconnect with spiritual and cultural
identities that were devastated by genocide.

Life of Ivanna: Ivanna, a 26-year-young Nenets mother of five children, lives in the Arctic region of northwest Siberia, driving her herd of reindeer in the tundra just as her family did for centuries. Due to climate change and a dwindling herd, she may be forced to make a dramatic life turn: to leave the tundra for the city.

The Magnitude of All Things: Jennifer Abbott’s new documentary merges
stories from the front lines of climate change with recollections of the loss of her sister, drawing intimate parallels between personal and planetary grief.

The Secret Path: A powerful visual representation of the life of Chanie
Wenjack, this is an animated film adaptation of Gord Downie’s album and Jeff
Lemire’s graphic novel. A musical retelling of Chanie’s story—from his escape
from the Cecilia Jeffrey Indian Residential School to his subsequent and
heartbreaking death from exposure.

Fries! The Movie: Directed by Michael Steed. Every deliciously salty and oft-
overlooked crinkle of the french fry. It takes us on a journey around the world—
from the origin of the potato in Peru, through the highly contested early history
of the fry in Europe and the United States.

Délicieux: France, 1789, just before the Revolution. With the help of a
surprising young woman, a chef who has been sacked by his master finds the
strength to free himself from his position as a servant and opens the first
restaurant.

Chefs and Shorts: Taking place at the Valley Drive-In, Chefs and Shorts features a full line up of Indigenous snacks and films:

Names for Snow: This short follows Rebecca Thomassie, an Inuk woman,
around Kangirsuk as she learns the 52 Inuktitut words for snow.

Chishkale: The Blessing of the Acorn: Bernadette Smith weaves the story of
her Tan Oak conservation efforts in Northern California into a contemporary
Indigenous dance piece created to honour the sacred, traditional food of
California Natives.

Connection: A lifelong angler, Autumn Harry had never fished beyond the
waters of her reservation, until she picked up a fly rod. On a trip to Washington
to cast for steelhead, she unpacks what it means to overcome her own image of
fly fishers and uses the sport to fight for conservation.

Wajak: At the End of the Lake: On a Sunday morning, as the sun is rising,
Peter Poucachiche wakes his grandson up to go moose hunting. A rather silent
journey on Kitiganik’s territory.

Pituamkek: A Mi’kmaq Heritage Landscape: A film about moving
reconciliation with First Nations in Canada forward, Pituamkek is a proposed
new National Park Reserve in PEI that has also been home to the Mi’kmaq
peoples of Epekwitk for more than 10,000 years.

Sara Mama: Sacred Seed: In the Peruvian Andes, a Quechua boy shows his
special relation to Sara Mama and reveals the knowledge within its productive
cycles.

Ealát: “As long as the reindeer exist here, so do we.” Through Elle Márjá Eira’s
eyes, we follow her family in different seasons with their reindeer herd. A story
about living and surviving in Sámi reindeer husbandry in strange times.

The closing night film is Wildhood, directed by Brettan Hannam. The film, which recently premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), and won Telefilm Canada’s Pitch This! competition at TIFF 2018, was filmed in English and Mi’kmaw. Wildhood is a Two Spirit odyssey filmed along the Bay of Fundy in Mi’kma’ki (Nova Scotia). In a rural trailer park, Link lives with his toxic father and younger half-brother Travis. When Link discovers his Mi’kmaw mother could still be alive, it lights a flame to make a run for a better life. As the boys’ journey across Mi’kma’ki, Link finds community, identity, and love.

A combination of culinary, beverage, film and TV workshops will be hosted in-person and digitally by new and returning celebrity headliners. Workshop highlights include Indigenous Voices on Stage & Screen featuring Tomson Highway; Wine Workshop: Back to the Land with Kathryn Harding; Indigenous Culinary Master Classes for Youth; and the following Indigenous Culinary Workshops: Basket Weaving into Foraging with Sandra Racine and Stéphane Levac; Sami Reindeer Cookery with Heikki Nikula, Mexican Cuisine with Jorge De La Rosa; Culinary Workshop with Taelor Barton; and Indigenous Food of the US
Southwest with Brian Yazzie.

Festival favourite Devour! Chowder Smackdown is also returning this year, where award-winning chefs invite guests to sample a generous helping of each of their chowders to be crowned this year’s Chowder Champion!

The 11th edition of Devour! will also deliver a number of established community give-back events like The Mayors’ Bike Ride for Devour! and The Great Devour! Community Supper in support of regional food banks. Proceeds from the Tomson Highway Concert & Fundraiser and the Devour! World Street Food Rally will be going to the Glooscap First Nation and youth. T-shirt sales, featuring art from David J Brooks will support the Devour! Hospitality Diversity Scholarship at the NSCC for the second year running. The Devour! Down-Home Lobster Supper & Take-Away returns with proceeds going towards the Indigenous Scholarship Fund at Acadia. Devour! continues to support The North Grove and Nourish Nova Scotia through all endeavors.

Youth and student programming is also a staple at Devour! and this year is no different, with in-person and live-streamed school programming. This includes the Big Picture Program, impactful films curated specifically for youth, the Nourish Nova Scotia & CBC Youth Food & Film Challenge, and in-person and live-streamed Cooking Master Classes for Youth run by Indigenous culinary instructors and students from coast to coast.

The full program and ticket information is available online at devourfest.com.
Tickets are available right now, September 23. A second release of tickets will become available on October 5. Our advice? Don’t wait!

Special contributions, counselling and curating have been made throughout Indigenous communities in the formation of this year’s theme by: Devour! Advisory Panel member Zabrina Whitman (Glooscap First Nation); Joseph Shawana (Founder & Chair – Indigenous Culinary of Associated Nations) curating all food across the event; and Garret Goade, (Mill Brook First Nation) has curated and created our Mi’kmaq Mawi’omi (pow wow) at the Devour! Opening Ceremonies, with drummers and dancers from across Nova Scotia.