Finding one’s place in the world can often be a difficult journey. It is even tougher when you are placed in an environment void of the culture you know and where no one looks like you. Such is the situation that young Kaley finds herself in. Still carrying the anger and pain of her parents’ death, and bounced around in the foster home system, Kaley struggles with the challenges that come with living in the city with her older sister.

Homesick for the sense of community that was shared on the reserve, Kaley runs away from her sister’s home in attempt to return to the land she once knew. During her travels she inadvertently stumbles across a comic shop. There she discovers Thunderbird, a First Nations superhero who teachers her a lesson about the importance of family.

The need to hold, and cultivate, one’s heritage is an important theme in Sonya Ballantyne’s film. Using comic books as an example, she effectively shows how vital seeing oneself represented in popular culture is for many First Nation youths. This is especially true for young women who are in need of more positive role models (both real and fictional ones like Thunderbird). By blending live-action and animation, she creates an inspirational tale of identity and family that not only has cross-generational appeal, but also never feels like it is talking down to the audience. While some of the performances could have been a smidgen tighter, this does little to take away from Sonya Ballantyne’s confident direction and the engaging way the film gets its message across.

Screens (as part of Femme Totale):
Saturday, October 22, 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Tickets can be purchased at the ImagineNATIVE website.