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12 October 2021

Tricks and turmoil.

by Andrew MacGregor

Short Films: “Joe Buffalo” - 15 mins 46s

Joe Buffalo is a skateboarder and a survivor. Born in Maskwacis, Alberta, Buffalo was one of thousands of indigenous children forced into Canada's residential school system. Like his siblings, parents, and grandparents before him, Buffalo endured a disturbing "kill the Indian, save the child" policy.

Amar Chebib's taut documentary explores the psychological toll from residential schooling, which turned Buffalo into a suicidal alcoholic and drug addict. It makes the fortysomething's recent success as a professional skater all the more notable.

Fisheye lens skate videos and claustrophobic tours of dilapidated school buildings reflect both sides of Buffalo's story well, complemented by his frank, engrossing narration. As Canada reflects on its grievous errors, the film superbly blends catharsis and kickflips.

Cinematographer: Liam Mitchell

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