It’s a fictional future, and yet it feels frighteningly familiar.
The year is 2043 and North America is under military occupation, society is in decay, and children are abducted and placed in state-run “academies.”
This is the dystopian world created by Canadian Indigenous filmmaker Danis Goulet in her debut feature Night Raiders.
Niska and her adolescent daughter Waseese are Cree, living off the grid, avoiding the cities where skies are darkened by surveillance drones and children are confined to the militarized academies. When Waseese suffers a debilitating injury and infection, Niska reluctantly surrenders her to the State so she can get the medical attention she needs. Immediately remorseful, Niska, in a chance encounter, meets the Night Raiders.
The Night Raiders are Cree vigilantes dedicated to freeing the next generation from the clutches of the cruel regime before they become robotic brainwashed soldiers. The Raiders help her understand the repercussions of her decision and they begin to plot a rescue mission. Waseese, who the all-white leadership have re-named Elizabeth, works to liberate herself, demonstrating strengths that draw unwanted attention from her new guardians.
Niska spends the movie in a frantic quest to save her daughter and, by extension, preserve part of her people’s heritage. Goulet, who is Cree herself, makes poignant references to the systemic erasure of Indigenous cultures but accompanies them with a message of resilience and power that offers hope for the future.
Night Raiders runs for seven nights from Friday, Jan. 21, to Thursday, Jan. 27 at 7:30 at the Salmar Classic.
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