An NFB crew filmed a group of three families, Cree hunters from Mistassini. Since times predating agriculture, this First Nations people have gone to the bush of the James Bay and Ungava Bay area to hunt. We see the building of the winter camp, the hunting and the rhythms of Cree family life.

Cree Hunters of Mistassini, Boyce Richardson & Tony Ianzelo, provided by the National Film Board of Canada

Like The Ballad of Crowfoot before it, Cree Hunters of Mistassini ranks among the most popular and widely screened films from the CFC/SN program. Unlike the earlier film, however, the Indian Film Crew was not responsible for the production. Directed by Montreal journalist Boyce Richardson and shot by Tony Ianzelo, the film (one in a series on the subject of Aboriginal culture and politics directed or produced by Richardson and Ianzelo) represents a form of advocacy: It presents a Cree point of view and gives voice to Cree concerns, but it is not an exercise in self-representation. Michelle Stewart writes, “The circumstances of the production of Cree Hunters in a period of budget retrenchment and political uncertainty reveal the commitment of certain CFC members to Aboriginal rights and representation in the 1970s, although NFB filmmakers and management had frequent disagreements over which styles and strategies would be most politically effective.” Cree Hunters departs from the Fogo process-inspired VTR experiments of the first wave of CFC/SN in terms of the polish and rigorous formal style of its day-in-the-life-of-the-Cree portrait, but is unequivocal in its presentation of a Cree perspective on a proposed Hydro-Québec project in the James Bay region. Thomas Waugh, Ezra Winton, Michael Baker

Credit to the National Film Board

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