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Hot Docs 2024: Qs à la mode with… Tasha Hubbard (Singing Back the Buffalo)

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In Singing Back the Buffalo, director Tasha Hubbard explores the significance of buffalo in Indigenous culture and history, and chronicles the efforts to rematriate, repopulate and restore buffalo herds in Canada and the U.S. We posed our Qs à la mode to Tasha, and here’s what she shared!

 

If I had to describe my film using only three adjectives, they would be: Evocative, beautiful, thought-provoking.

I decided to make this film because: I wanted to honour the buffalo, and the wise and wonderful Indigenous people who have inspired me and my work with the buffalo.

The thing that surprised me most about my film’s subject/topic was: That even though I have been thinking and writing and studying about buffalo and visiting buffalo for many years, I was constantly learning more on the shoot. I loved every minute.

The toughest part of the shoot was: The winter scenes were physically difficult, due to the -30º temperatures. To stay warm, you need to move quickly, but if you are filming buffalo, you need to keep still, so that could be tough. And the cold would start to hurt our hands when we had to pull off mittens and gloves to work some of the equipment. But there is something really beautiful about the cold in the prairies, so the footage looks great and it was worth it.

My favorite moment/scene/sequence in my film is: The scenes we shot with the WoLakota Project: the big herd of buffalo that will be able to have agency again, as well as the way the youth are brought into the buffalo program through the harvest. Their curiosity, confidence and joy is what we want for our Indigenous youth.

 My most invaluable piece of doc-making equipment was/is: My notebook! I write everything down. I lost one halfway through the shoot and I literally cried, and I still think about what is in that book.

One piece of documentary-filmmaking advice I’d like to share with aspiring documentarians is: Really learn how to stay present while you are filming. I find my best moments in the action because I am fully present in the process: I avoid looking at my phone, I don’t worry about taking photos, I am just present by listening and watching and being completely immersed in what is happening around me.

 

Want to check out Tasha’s film, or just learn more about it?
Get the scoop, and your tickets, here!

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