Zaasaakwe is more moving essay or tone poem than a narrative or documentary. The film juxtaposes native dancers adorned in traditional dress with young people walking the streets and riding skateboards. The film draws parallels between the struggles and hardships of the past and the strengths of the new generation. The film isn’t even five minutes long, but it contains a wealth of ideas, images, and philosophical musings on the importance of culture.

The film features voice-over delivering words over the images. There is heavy repetition of the title, a word that means, “a battle fought with tired muscles”, and the voice pontificates over the relationship between the past and the present. The interlaced images are vivid and full of energy, the words practiced and confident.

As such, the viewer extracts meaning from specific choices, the most obvious of which is the choice to repeat the title, a refrain driving home the idea that though there have been insults in the past, and though we may still suffer from the weight of those insults, it is still in our power to fight. And it is in this fight that the newer generation can both respect the strength of its ancestors and carry on their fight.

Screens (as part of the First Step Shorts Programme):
Saturday, October 21, 10 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Ticket information can be found at the imagineNATIVE website.