The captivating and deeply insightful feature-length documentary, s-yéwyáw / Awaken, is set to make its highly anticipated B.C. premiere. The film, a TELUS original production, directed by the acclaimed filmmaker Liz Marshall, showcases the stories of hope and homecoming, interweaving the profound teachings of Indigenous Elders with the journeys of Indigenous multimedia changemakers.

Premiere Details

On Saturday, November 25, 2023, at 4:30 PM, the VIFF Centre in Vancouver will host the premiere screening of s-yéwyáw / Awaken. The occasion promises a captivating experience, with the filmmakers and the revered Elders featured in the film present for an extended Q&A session and an Indigenous ceremony. Following this special event, the film will have multiple screenings in Vancouver. The film will also grace the Raven’s Cry Theatre in Sechelt on December 13th and 14th, marking a homecoming to the Sunshine Coast, where much of the documentary was filmed.

The news of the film’s premiere at the Planet In Focus International Environmental Film Festival in Toronto, where it received the prestigious People’s Choice Award, has set the stage for its homecoming in B.C.

Unveiling Stories of Transformation

The character-driven narrative of s-yéwyáw / Awaken intertwines the journeys of remarkable individuals such as artist, musician, and medicine woman Ecko Aleck of the Nlaka’pamux Nation; filmmaker and Traditional Wellness Coordinator Alfonso Salinas of the shíshálh Nation; and storyteller and impact producer Charlene SanJenko of the Splatsin of the Secwépemc Nation. Their exploration involves learning and documenting the traditional cultural teachings and legacies of their Elders, including insights into the profound impacts of Canada’s Residential School system.

The film gracefully incorporates Indigenous ceremonies, inviting audiences to witness the process of intergenerational healing. It sheds light on the collaborative narrative construction between an Indigenous and settler team, urging attention to the profound filmmaking process.

A Message of Healing and Wisdom

In a collective statement, Ecko Aleck, Alfonso Salinas, and Charlene SanJenko expressed their gratitude and commitment to sharing intergenerational stories of healing and teachings from their Elders. “As parents and as Indigenous multimedia creators, we are deeply committed to healing, finding our voice and speaking our truth,” they remarked. “The teachings of our Indigenous Elders are needed now more than ever to navigate a changing world.”

Behind the Scenes and Production

The film, produced with the support of TELUS, involved a talented team of individuals, including award-winning filmmaker Liz Marshall, executive producer Christina Willings from TELUS, line producer Patti Poskitt, associate producer Özgün Gündüz, and impact producer Charlene SanJenko. Noteworthy contributors to the film include Eddie O. (Editor), Eva Anandi Brownstein, Liz Marshall, Inder Nirwan, and Diana Parry (Cinematography), and Ecko Aleck (Music Composer), among others.

The film was produced with the support of Telus, developed with the participation of Creative BC, produced in Association with Hollywood Suite and Knowledge Network and funded in part by the Province of BC Film Incentive BC and the Canadian Film and Video Production Tax Credit

s-yéwyáw / Awaken was filmed respectfully on the unceded territories of various Indigenous Peoples, acknowledging and honoring the rich cultural heritage of these lands.

The upcoming premiere at the VIFF Centre and Raven’s Cry Theatre stands as a celebration of Indigenous wisdom and storytelling, a testament to the power of intergenerational knowledge and healing. Don’t miss the opportunity to witness the unveiling of this transformative documentary that bridges cultures and illuminates the paths of healing and learning.