Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers on the film’s Indigenous empathy
When Elle-MÃ¡ijÃ¡ tail feathers accepted the role of Niska in At Danis Goulet Raiders of the night, she knew it was an opportunity to tell the story of a lifetime. Niska is a mother who joins an underground vigilante group in an attempt to save her daughter (Brooklyn Letexier-Hart of a public establishment. I spoke with the actress about her relationship with the director, her chemistry with Letexier-Hart, how the film grew out of a place of empathy and indigenous representation in the media.
âWorking with Danis Goulet is really what intrigued me and attracted me to the project because she has been a friend and mentor for many years,â Tailfeathers said. “I really admire his work. So working with Danis is what attracted me, then I read the script, and it was unlike anything I had read before.” The actress shares many intense moments with her young co-star, attributing their chemistry to her precocious nature. âBrooklyn herself is such a brilliant young woman,â she explained. âShe’s so smart, talented and so politically aware of the story and themes of the film. Working with her has been a wonderful experience. Danis spent time working together before going on camera to build our relationship and develop. our sense of comfort in understanding each other. It was just a wonderful experience. She has a very bright future ahead of her, and it has been an honor to work with her as an on-screen mom. “
While the story behind it is science fiction, much of what happens is reality in Tailfeather’s own life. âThe story itself is, although it takes place in a dystopian future, very close to home and reality for me,â she said. âBoth of my grandparents went to residential schools here in Canada, and my father went to the Sami residential school in Norway. The reality of the impact of these institutions is therefore very close to home. I integrated this personal lived experience. is also representative of many of the Indigenous women I know, and I wanted to honor their stories and experiences on screen through stories. So I guess every day I made a real commitment to honoring these stories and staying committed to the central theme of love between a mother and her daughter. “
Tailfeather gives Goulet credit for bringing up some historical events throughout the film. “There is so much in the film that speaks to the truth of the Indigenous experience in Canada and also in the United States,” she said. âDanis did a really good job of reflecting the truth through that type of alternate reality in that futuristic lens. So, I mean, there was so much like the story of Standing Rock. I don’t know. more in Canada, I just witnessed indigenous resistance movements and then seen them on screen as âNight Raiders.â It was definitely an influence and an inspiration. Then there are just the countless stories. that I have heard before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission here in Canada, as well as the stories of my family and my community.
While inroads have been made to show better portrayal of POC, new signature works allow audiences to normalize Indigenous peoples. âI think there’s been a lot of change lately, and it’s so cool to be able to witness it,â Tailfeathers said. “It’s amazing that [FX’s] “Reservation dogs” and [Peacock’s] âRutherford Fallsâ is on screen in the United States. We’re also seeing this really amazing wave of native films, feature films. I think there is change, and I think it has everything to do with all the advocacy and activism that has happened and continues to happen behind the scenes. I think there is still a long way to go, but things are definitely better than they were just a few years ago. So I hope that in the future funders, producers, networks, streaming platforms recognize that there is an audience for Indigenous stories and films. We see it through the success of “Reservation Dogs”, “Rutherford Falls” and “Night Riders” and other indie native films, because there is a desire and an appetite for audiences to see our stories that we need to be able to. tell. these stories. So I hope we will continue to see positive changes in this direction. “
Executive produced by Taika Waititi, Raiders of the night by Samuel Goldwyn Films also stars Gail Maurice, Amanda Plummer, Alex Tarrant, Violet Nelson, Shaun Sipos, and Suzanne Cyr. The film hits theaters, digital and on-demand on November 12.