We Are Still Here ★★★★ TIFF 2022

We Are Still Here ★★★★ TIFF 2022

What shines through when watching the anthology film We Are Still Here is how important the scope is of what we are viewing. This is a film that will resonate with you in a multitude of ways, and despite the continual pain that indigenous people go through, hope blossoms through – powerful and essential viewing.

Through the eyes of eight protagonists, We Are Still Here traverses 1000 years from past, present, and future to explore stories of kinship, loss, grief, and resilience. But ultimately, it shows the strength of love and hope to overcome shared traumas that Indigenous people from Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific have continued to face.

Rather than simply intercutting from one film to the other, director Beck Cole and editor Roland Gallois have made the discerning effort to effortlessly link them together as if they are chapters in one complete story. There is an air of predictability to the editing as well, yet it remains expertly constructed. Interestingly, we have a mix of live-action, and animation in We Are Still Here and never once does the animation feel out of place, which can be a difficult task when we are presented with such an emotional strand of films.

As mentioned at the start, we see these stories of loss, pain, and destruction, yet as with more people who have been pushed down for as long as they and their ancestors can remember, hope remains. What is life without a glimmer of hope after all, while it was almost unthinkably devastating for those generations ago, all they can do is hope that it will be easier for their children and their children’s children. They are still here, and goodness knows we thank them for fighting to be here and live in a continually better world.

Directors Beck Cole (Grog Shop), Danielle MacLean (Lured), Dena Curtis (Woke), Tim Worrall, Richard Curtis (Te Puuru), Miki Magasiva, Mario Gaoa (The Uniform), Chantelle Burgoyne (Blankets), Tracey Rigney (Rebel Art) and Renae Maihi (The Bull and the RuRu) all have their strengths, Lured for example is a wonderful rotoscope animation involving a mother and daughter literally catching a British ship as it arrives in Australasia. While Blankets focuses on a young indigenous person as she tries to find her voice and learning of the importance of what her ancestors have passed down to her. Together all eight work as a cohesive unit to allow us to reflect and feel the need and openness to question.

We Are Still Here is a film that will evoke many emotions from you; each film has a drive to work on you in different ways, yet it seems almost improbable to think that, as a whole, it is able to grab you and keep you locked in, in the manner that it does. Anger rises up with you with the greatest of ease as we watch what happens to characters, then equally, there are light-hearted moments to try and relay such thoughts, before we get the emotional wind knocked out of us in some truly devastating moments.

We are left with a film that is an absolute must; this is an anthology that will deeply move you.


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