Netflix and imagineNATIVE have partnered to provide grants to five Indigenous filmmakers working in the horror, thriller or futurism genres, in honour of Jeff Barnaby, a Mi’kmaw writer and director from Listuguj, Que.
Barnaby, who died in October at age 46, was best known for his sci-fi and horror films such as File Under Miscellaneous, Rhymes for Young Ghouls and most recently, Blood Quantum. All three of these films were shown at the Toronto International Film Festival, and Blood Quantum was awarded Best Canadian Feature Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2019. Blood Quantum won seven awards at the Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Original Screenplay.
Five Indigenous film and television makers across Canada with projects in the horror, thriller and futurism genre will each receive $25,000. Netflix is contributing $125,000 from its Fund for Creative Equity while imagineNATIVE will co-ordinate the application, jury and selection process.
Barnaby’s wife, Sarah Del Seronde, said, “Jeff had a way of being able to give us a way to feel prideful of where we were coming from.”
“I think that his body of work is impressive and it is something to strive for. With a grant like this, it gives filmmakers and creatives a chance to be able to forge their own path. I think that is what is helpful; it gives us courage.”
Del Seronde, a Navajo documentary filmmaker from Flagstaff, Ariz., said her craft is a stark difference from her husband’s science-fiction and horror films.
“It was fun to watch some of the crazy stuff he put up on the screen,” she said.
She added Barnaby often featured strong female lead characters in his films, something she hopes will be showcased by filmmakers with this grant.
“I think there is something very cool about a male holding up women, wanting to show us as equals and I think that that’s sort of what his work does in a large part,” she said.
“He really did admire feminine power.”
Applications received already
In a statement, Tara Woodbury, manager for Canadian series at Netflix, expressed her admiration for Barnaby.
“He possessed a strong love of film and television and an unrelenting vision. He was funny, generous and committed to his community,” she said.
“We hope these grants carry his legacy forward with the next generation of bold Indigenous storytellers.”
Jamie-Lee Reardon, institute manager of imagineNATIVE, said imagineNATIVE and the panel of judges, which includes Del Seronde, has already received applications for the grant.
“Jeff did a huge undertaking in opening up that genre in Indigenous storytelling to a more publicly seen level,” she said.
“I think that there are so many stories that people are wanting to tell within that genre. It’s important to continue telling the stories, to continue to give space for these stories to be told and to continue to support Indigenous storytellers.”