SAVAGE from Lisa Jackson on Vimeo.

On a summer day in the 1950s, a native girl watches the countryside go by from the backseat of a car. A woman at her kitchen table sings a lullaby in her Cree language. When the girl arrives at her destination, she undergoes a transformation that will turn the woman’s gentle voice into a howl of anger and pain.

In a place like this, there aren’t many chances to be a kid. But, when no one’s watching…

A residential school musical.

6 mins | HD Video | 2009

Commissioned as part of the imagineNATIVE Film Festival's Embargo Collective.

Distributor: Ouat Media / Educational Distributor: Moving Images Distribution

Broadcast on Bravo! TMN. Screened at 40+ festivals, including Berlinale Forum Expanded, SXSW, London BFI, New York International Children's Festival. Full list below.

2010 Genie Award for Best Short Film
Golden Sheaf Award for Best Multicultural Film
ReelWorld Outstanding Canadian Short Film
Leo Awards for Best Actress and Best Editing.

"Award-winning filmmaker Lisa Jackson delivers one of the most original short films of the year in the form of a residential school musical.”
- Atlantic Film Festival

“Lisa Jackson’s video Savage is an unexpected mix of genres, from zombie film to hip hop to American musical. Set in the 1940s or ’50s, it uses song and dance rather than spoken dialogue to describe a little girl’s dehumanizing journey into the residential-school system. It also depicts her grief-stricken mother, alone in her kitchen. While much of the work in Witnesses makes palpable the impact of residential schools on the children who were forced to attend them, Jackson’s film also speaks to the sorrow and loss of parents whose children were stolen from them. It will break your heart, then startle you. Nothing is resolved.”
- Georgia Straight review of Belkin Gallery Witnesses show

“An awesome reinvention of genre that uses heavy metal, zombies and hip-hop dance moves to communicate thought control, hunger and abuse.”
- WSFF Best of the Fest

“A beautiful and surprising Ghost Dance.”
- Northwest Film & Video Festival

"It's an amazingly effective use of a scifi trope to convey the historical reality of Native Americans/First Nations people who were taken to boarding schools, yet the film as a whole is so subtle and leaves room for the viewer, so that it doesn't become overly didactic or preachy."
- Fantasy Matters Blog

"Co-opting the denigrating term "savage" for the title, Lisa Jackson turns the tables on the language of colonization and captures our attention. Meeting creative challenges posed in a powerful way and then dubbing the resulting film as "a residential school musical," turns our heads again. Without trivializing a dark part of Canada's history, SAVAGE invites the viewer to reconsider residential schools in a way that pushes the boundaries of thought. While exploring creative perimeters, the film muses on the capacity of children to harness the power of imagination as shelter from the most unpleasant of circumstances."
- Sylvia Jonescu Lisitza, Moving Images Distribution

2009 imagineNATIVE Film Festival, Toronto, Canada – World Premiere
2010 Berlinale Forum Expanded, Berlin, Germany – International Premiere
Best of the Fest, Winnipeg, Canada
South by Southwest, Austin, Texas – US Premiere
Women in Film & Television Film Festival, Vancouver, Canada
Cowichan Aboriginal Film Festival, Duncan, Canada
Yorkton Film Festival, Yorkton, Saskatchewan, Canada
Samisk Film Festival, Samisk Høgskole, Norway
Wairoa Maori Film Festival, Aotearoa, New Zealand
CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, Toronto, Canada
Free Range Film Festival, Wrenshall, MN, USA
WSFF Best of the Fest, Calgary, Montreal, Vancouver, Canada
All Roads Film Festival, Washington, DC, USA
Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver, BC, Canada
54th BFI London Film Festival, London, UK
Edmonton International Film Festival, Edmonton, AB, Canada
Atlantic Film Festival, Halifax, NS, Canada
Native Spirit Film Festival, London, UK
Local Sightings, Seattle, WA, USA
Uppsala International Short Film Festival, Uppsala, Sweden
Festival International du Film d’Amiens, Amiens, France
Calgary Society of Independent Filmmakers, Alberta, Canada
37th Northwest Film & Video Festival, Portland, OR, USA
American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, CA, USA
Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, Manitoba, Canada
2011 Yellowknife Film Festival, NWT, Canada
Birds Eye View Film Festival, London, UK
Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe, New Mexico
New York International Children’s Film Festival, New York, NY
Native American Film & Video Festival, New York, NY
ReelWorld Film Festival, Toronto, Canada
Tulsa International Film Festival, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Biindigaate Film Festival, Thunder Bay, ON
Native Eyes Film Showcase, Tucson, AZ
Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival, Vancouver, Canada
Cool Connections (SXSW Shorts), Moscow, Russia
Panorama at UNESCO – International Academy Films, Paris, France
2012 REELkids Film Festival, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
Cinefest Sudbury Film Festival
Winterthur Film Festival