I met Kevin Burton in 2007 at the Sundance Film Festival where he was working for the festival’s Native Initiative Program which brings emerging Indigenous filmmakers together with established actors, directors and producers to workshop their scripts. At that time I was very much into the contemporary Indigenous arts and Indie film scene promoting these under-represented, but significantly talented, artists through my first online arts journal, NAICA online.
It turned out that Kevin is a filmmaker himself who didn’t require Robert Redford’s input, especially since his works are highly experimental (but beautifully photographed) – not generally the type of cinema the Sundance crowd goes for, but should.
On a personal level, I immediately liked Kevin. I know, a lot of people use the cliched statement, “He’s probably the nicest person you’ll ever meet!”, but that’s actually true in this case. Specifically because Native folks aren’t the most openly friendly, especially to outsiders, and who could blame them? But Kevin has always been warm and receptive of my inquiries surrounding Indigenous cinema and arts. He’s particularly fond of discussing the nuances of language, film and sound and the intersections of all three – his brand of experimental film practice, which appeals to my sense of inquiry and need for challenging cultural experiences. It also helps that he has a refined aesthetic and eye for selecting talented collaborators.
His most recent endeavor, God’s Lake Narrows, an online interactive piece on view at the National Film Board of Canada’s website, is a compelling multi-media interactive art piece made specifically for the web. As with his past endeavors Kevin presents a complex portrait of his tribe (Cree), their land and the perceptions from within and outside of the cultural environs. Of course, I had questions and he was generous enough to take the time to answer them via email.