From Cherry English
"From Cherry English" is a brutal poem turned film about losing your native tongue; literally. It's the story of Traylor an urban Mi'kmaq who tries to impress a blonde bar girl with his "nativeness" and gets, or loses, more than he bargains for.
The short dramatic film was commissioned by CBC Television’s ZeD as one of five projects licensed by the Mix Flicks programme for independent filmmakers who explore the multicultural experience in Canada.
"I wrote this piece because I was so pissed off at my own generation," says first time Mi'kmaq filmmaker Jeff Barnaby. "It started out as a bad joke. Whenever anybody used to ask me to how to speak Indian I'd just say, 'Get drunk and speak bad English.' My standard old joke is what became the punch line of the whole story."
Jeff's anger is exactly what brought experienced Cree actor Nathaniel Arcand onto the set to play the lead role of Traylor, "I read the script and it was this thing about pointing a finger at the native man and saying, 'Hey what are we doing? Wake up!' It's like we keep doing these things to ourselves. We keep saying yes, we want to learn our culture. But then it's, 'Here I go, I'm gonna drink anyway. Tomorrow, I'm gonna do culture tomorrow' That's what we do. And we don't talk about it. This film talks about it."
Dana Klyszejko plays Lillith, the ethereal blonde who wants more from Traylor's culture than he does himself, and more from him than he's got to give. "Lillith is very conniving, she has a mission to get something out of Traylor. I think she's a mysterious woman who Traylor maybe should not have met that night.
This project was produced by Nutaaq Media Inc. where Jeff worked as a summer student on the documentary television series, "Finding Our Talk" for APTN while completing a film degree at Concordia University. Danièle Rohrbach was the Producer. She brought a mix of seasoned professionals, who generously donated their time, together with newcomers and ensured the success of the shoot. The National Film Board provided assistance through a variety of training and assistance programs. The film was broadcast nationally on CBC’s ZeD in March of 2004.
It has since been shown at 11 festivals including Sundance, Yorkton (3 golden sheaf awards) The National Geographic All Roads Festival, Imaginative, San Fransisco Native American Film Festival, Terre en Vue and the Atlantic International Film festival.