Director: Gil Cardinal
Screenwriters: Thomas King

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


This excellent selection of films shows the way Native and aboriginal filmmakers throughout the Western Hemisphere are moving beyond the traditional documentary form to illustrate the sociopolitical aspects of their everyday life. In Gil Cardinal’s film Borders, the main character, Olivia, lives on a reserve at the base of the Canadian Rockies with her young son, Luke. Her daughter has left the reserve to seek her fortune in the United States. Something prevents Olivia from visiting her daughter. Finally, Olivia’s cousin, Gloria, traps her into going, and their journey begins. When they reach the U.S. border, Olivia declares her citizenship as Blackfoot. She is cajoled by the guard, but refuses to change her declaration, and they are sent back to Canada. Again she says that she is Blackfoot, and again she is refused entry. Back and forth between borders they go, much to Luke’s confusion. At long last, Olivia reveals her reasoning, bringing their predicament to a head, and this story of passive resistance and pride comes to an interesting end.

— Stephen Lewis

Screening Details

  • Section: Beyond Borders: New Native Cinema
  • Film Type: Dramatic Short
  • Country: Canada
  • Run Time: 25 min.
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