Tales From The Rez contributes to the thriving Indigenous film scene
By James Windler, Contributor
For the 24th annual season of CIFF, over 28,000 audience members were invited to attend and vote for their Audience Choice Award. This year, Tales From The Rez won the Audience Choice Award for Alberta Feature.
Indigenous writer and director Trevor Solway is riding a high wave of emotions after his horror-comedy anthology web series Tales From The Rez premiered to a booming success on Sept. 24.
Calgarians packed into the Globe Cinema, which is located in the heart of Calgary’s downtown area to check out Tales From The Rez, which is set to be released on ATPN later this fall.
The series’ success is just another example of the thriving Indigenous film scene in Alberta, which has seen recent projects like the critically acclaimed prequel to the Predator series, Prey, which features a cast made up of 95 per cent Indigenous actors and was filmed at Stoney Nakoda Nation west of Calgary. After the successful weekend, Solway was overwhelmed by the love and support his series received.
“It was hard to find a seat. There was a lot of my community there, a lot of native people there, which was really good to see, not just colleagues but friends and family and people I’ve known over the years and even people who I don’t know,” said Solway.
“There’s so many emotions for me, it was hard for me to sit there and be present, I just had to remember to take it all in and enjoy it.”
Solway, who is from Siksika Nation, which is located approximately one hour east of Calgary, started developing Tales From The Rez years ago through The Napi Collective, which is a grassroots filmmaking society in Siksika Nation.
The project was only meant to be a lighthearted, fun project about stories that had been passed down from family and friends, but it began to pick up steam after Solway and co-director Telly James used the first episode to get funding for a full-blown series.
After years of getting everything sorted and meeting with producers, Solway and James got the green light for their project.
Production for the series took 17 long grueling 12-hour days, but for Solway, it was all worth it.
“To make films on this level, it’s complex and intricate, but it’s really fascinating to be a part of and it’s a lot of fun,” said Solway.
Solway’s path to making Tales From The Rez had a couple of twists and turns. After going to film school, Solway pivoted into the Journalism program at Mount Royal University.
After graduating, Solway went right back into film, as it was always his dream to create Indigenous films.
“I’ve always been a really creative kid and person, and film was my way of making sense of the world around me as a young Indigenous kid growing on the reserve, but also, I didn’t see anybody that looked like me making films,” said Solway.
“I didn’t see myself, little brown kids, represented in television or movies and so I’ve always had that goal or mission in my mind to make films for us and by us.”
The series is set to be fully released on Oct. 20 on ATPN lumi, a subscription-based streaming service where you can find other Indigenous-based media.