I first saw Métis artist Terril Calder's 2014 stop-frame feature, The Lodge, an independently made, relatively small- budget film, at its premiere at the ImagineNative Film + Media Arts festival, held annually in Toronto, Canada. The feature-length animation played to a full house at the Light-box Theater downtown. Many were there to attend the five-day festival, which is dedicated to Indigenous media made by and for Indigenous people. Others were there because as members of Toronto's general public they wanted to catch a movie during a night out in the city. Since then The Lodge has shown at various other independent venues. It isn't what you might think of as commercial fare. Its audiences are not huge.
However, for those who do view The Lodge, the film presents a creative space to rethink our sense of boundaries in a number of ways: boundaries between human/nonhuman, white/Indigenous, male/female, spectator/film-object. In this essay, I argue that the film is thus an invitation to question the "naturalness" of hegemonic identity assumptions that demarcate such boundaries. I interviewed Calder (via Skype and subsequent email correspondence) soon after I saw the film, and I situate a close textual analysis of the film within the context of her intent and the burgeoning scholarly dialogue between Indigenous studies and ecocritical studies. The scholarly dialogue, as Joni Adamson and I write in the introduction to our recent anthology, Ecocriticism and Indigenous Studies: Conversations from Earth to Cosmos (2016), argues for "clear sighted understandings of multi-faceted human/more-than-human relationships" that exist outside of binaries imposed by Western notions of "progress". Similarly, Steven Loft, coeditor of Coded Territories: Tracing Indigenous Pathways in New Media Art, writes of an Indigenous "media cosmology" that is "replete with life and spirit, inclusive of beings, thought, prophecy, and the underlying connectedness of all things" and that is not predicated on Western foundations of thought (xvi). Calder extends such Indigenous worldviews of connectedness to cinema and animation in particular.
This is the author's version of the work. This publication appears in Gettysburg College's institutional repository by permission of the copyright owner for personal use, not for redistribution.
Monani, Salma. "The Cosmological Liveliness of Terril Calder's The Lodge: Animating Our Relations and Unsettling Our Cinematic Spaces." Studies in American Indian Literatures 29, no. 4 (2017): pp. 1-28.