These Walls (9:22)
Troubled teen, MARY, is returning to her home reserve from the nearby town where she works. While taking a short cut across a deserted part of the reserve, her car breaks down near the dreaded Indian residential school. While on the phone to her mother, residential school survivor CLAIRE, warns her to stay away from the school. Mary ignores the warning. She sees Father Kelly’s car and is drawn to the school with the hope of catching a ride to the village. Once near the school, the sound of a baby’s cry entices her into the building. She is quickly swept into a world beyond her reality, where she sees the past and for the first time understands the grief that torments her mother. When she returns to the present, she must fight to rescue the bones of the missing and murdered babies of the Indian residential school in order to right the old wrongs and release the spirits of the babies.

Doreen Manuel (Ktunaxa/Secwepemc), graduated from the Aboriginal Film & Television program, currently known as the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program at the Bosa Centre. Doreen is the sixth child of Grand Chief Dr. George Manuel & Spiritual Leader Marceline Manuel. She has an extensive background working in First Nations education and community development in both rural and urban centres. Doreen comes from a long line of oral historians and factual storytellers from her First Nations traditional background. Currently she is the Canadian Correspondent for The Native Heartbeat, owner of Running Wolf Productions and the Program Coordinator of the Indigenous Independent Digital Filmmaking program.


Background Story
I am a residential school survivor… things happen in a place like that… talking about it out loud, from a place of truly remembering, can sometimes change a person forever. Surviving has taken so much of my energy, I’m afraid of losing who I am inside the memories of what I have endured.

The memories come out in so many different ways. These Walls was evoked by a frightening dream vision. The first thought I experienced when I woke up was that I should make a movie out of it. I wrote the dream in my dream journal and then tried to forget it because it was so incredibly terrifying. The images lingered and constantly pressed against me, aching in my chest. Then one day Crazy 8s came knocking. I decided that participating in Crazy 8s might be one of the only ways that I would finally get to make a film. Since graduation from film school I’ve worked primarily in TV and the news, I manage a film studies program and have had no energy or time to develop the type of innovative stories that I want to create.

These Walls is in a way an adaptation. I wanted to stay true to the original text, which is the dream vision, the dream story. My spiritual practices tell us that when we want or need something in our lives, we need to meet the spirits half way. We need to work and pray as hard as we can to achieve our hopes. Then if it doesn’t turn out the way we envisioned, it is then that we realize that it has come to us the way it was meant to be.

Filming These Walls was a phenomenal experience and everyone was great. At one point Andrea Menard asked me why her character looks up. I explained that her character, hears a spirit call. That her character, Claire, knew the spirits before she went into the residential school but lost sight of them for a period of time in her life, and then she hears that sound for the first time since childhood. I told her that sound is like an eagle’s call. I went back to wait behind the monitor. As I waited there a song came into my mind, I began to hum and then sing the song quietly to myself. I knew that I was hearing that song for the first time. I called “action,” Andrea gave me exactly what I needed for the scene. When we consulted after the scene, she told me that she heard the eagle’s call. Just about then, two eagles burst out of the trees, right near where we were. They flew to our right, around toward the back of the film set and then they joined with one other eagle and flew the rest of the circle around our set and then flew away. That blessing from the spirits rang deep into my heart to satisfy the ache that soon became dull, until it disappeared.

These Walls
was an experiment in some ways to see if I could take a dream vision and turn it into a film. On a trip to Alberta, I later found out that is called dream speaking. First Nations/Native Americans have a distinct way of telling a story and our stories evolve from a different place. I’m inundated by media therefore, it is difficult, to step back from what I have learned in media and in film school script writing classes, to create our unique story from a traditional place of thought and experience. It is difficult for me to figure out my own process to use media as a medium to dream speak. Some of my dreams are spiritual messages that can’t be interpreted for general audience dream speaking, however, a great percentage of them can be. My hope is to find my way to dream speak into modern media, to learn to be true to my dream spoken stories, and to become a dream speaker filmmaker.



phone: 604-837-3663
email: doreen_manuel@hotmail.com


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