Seeing our World in 16:9 Aspect Ratio, an Indigenous Film Journey

Dr. Charles Menzies (hagwil hayetsk) was recently featured in American Ethnologist (Vol. 51, No. 1, February 2024: What Good is Anthropology?)

“Seeing our world in 16:9 aspect ratio, an Indigenous film journey” is a reflection on making Indigenous films in a colonized world. The author draws on his experience as an Indigenous filmmaker to reflect on the settler’s gaze and its implications for an Indigenous film practice. This is accomplished through telling stories and reflecting on films made over several decades.

Creating films give license to audiences to look, to take, to feel, even to reach in and touch. It gives license to audiences to use as they will. There is a controlling aspect embedded in how an audience looks at our films and takes them up as their own. This reflection is about the license to look and about our place as Indigenous activists in challenging and changing the way others shape our world through their gaze. Do we succumb to the seductiveness of their gaze and their desires? Or do we stand up to it and assert our own Indigenous view? Do we have the courage to stand up and present our world without apologies to the settler gaze? Do we have the courage to refuse to yield to the blindness of the ḵ‘amksiwah?