Indigenous two-spirit film shot in Nova Scotia opens in Toronto

Glen Gould, left, and Justin Rain star in film, North Mountain. The film was written and directed by Indigenous filmmaker Bretten Hannam/Photo contributed

An award-winning film by a Nova Scotia Indigenous filmmaker is being screened in Toronto for a week starting Friday.

North Mountain, a 2015 thriller written and directed by Bretten Hannam, will be shown at The Carlton Cinema from June 29 to July 5. After that, the film will be available via on-demand video through Northern Banner Releasing.

“I’ve never had a distributor before, like for a feature. I’ve never had a film in a theatre … for the public to go buy tickets and go see it which is pretty nuts,” Hannam said in a phone interview from his home in Bear River, N.S.

North Mountain, which was shot near Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia, is about a young Metis hunter named Wolf who lives on North Mountain. Wolf encounters a wounded, older Mi’kmaw man named Crane who is on the run from the law. Wolf nurses him back to health and they fall in love.

Justin Rain, who had roles television shows, Fear the Walking Dead and Blackstone, plays Wolf. Mi’kmaq actor Glen Gould, who has had roles in television shows, Cardinal, Mohawk Girls and The Strain, plays Crane.

North Mountain premiered in Halifax at the Atlantic Film Festival in 2015. The film received an award at the film festival for best Atlantic original score. It also received the 2016 Best Feature Film award from Screen Nova Scotia.

NS Indigenous filmmaker Bretten Hannam with his production team for film, North Mountain./Photo by Stephen Brake

Hannam, who studied filmmaking at NSCAD University, wrote the script over a four year period and shot the film in January 2015. He was able to secure $250,000 in funding through Telefilm Canada’s micro-budget program.

Postive reaction Indigenous LGBTQ community

Hannam says his film has been well-received by the Indigenous LGBTQ community for having the two main characters be two-spirited.

“Overwhelmingly, there’s been a lot of positive response and people just happy to see there’s a film, happy to hear the language at all,” Hannam said.

“The fact that there’s two-spirit characters, I think a lot of people resonate with the two-spirit people, Indigenous LGBTQ people,” he said.

Since North Mountain’s debut in 2015, the film has been screened at various film festivals. It was also screened at the Halifax Central Library during Pride Week.

Since working on North Mountain, Hannam has moved from Halifax to Bear River, N.S. where he has fixed up his childhood house.

“I’ve made a lot of friends and met a lot of people, old family friends and family,” Hannam said. “That, in turn, helped me kind of, decompress a little bit and find more inspiration, I guess.”

Hannam has been working on scripts for several short films. Recently, he worked with the RT Collective in Toronto to create a film about two-spirit history from the LGBTQ archives in Toronto.

“The things I’ve learned from making North Mountain, I’m kind of excited to apply them to another feature film.”


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About Maureen Googoo 192 Articles
Maureen Googoo is an award-winning journalist from Indian Brook First Nation (Sipekne'katik) in Nova Scotia. She has worked in news for 30 years for media outlets such as CBC Radio, the Chronicle-Herald and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. Maureen has an arts degree in political science from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, a post-graduate degree in journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and a Masters degree in journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City.