There is true power in art. It can be used as a source of truth, as well as something that universally connects people. For Métis/Algonquin filmmaker Michelle Latimer, art has always been a way to make change. After roles on screen in Blackstone and Paradise Falls, she set aside plans for medical school in order to make documentary films. In doing so, Latimer quickly realized that if she wanted to create real change through film, then she was going to have to do it herself.
After several successful documentaries, including the VICE series Rise, for which she won the 2018 Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary Program, Latimer, in partnership with Sienna, acquired the rights to Eden Robinson’s Trickster trilogy of books. Premiering in 2020, Trickster marks the first time CBC has developed a TV show based on books by an Indigenous author. In addition to co-creating and showrunner duties, Latimer directs all six episodes of the series. Trickster follows Jared, an Indigenous teen struggling to keep his family above water when a mysterious stranger, Wade, blows into town and turns his already chaotic life inside out. Soon weird things start happening and it becomes clear there’s much more going on.
Latimer recently spoke with The TV Junkies as part of our Women Behind Canadian TV series to share why the national broadcaster, along with APTN who have come on board with a second window license, offered an appealing platform for Trickster, and will allow her to make it accessible for Indigenous communities. Television offers a platform unlike any other, and artists like Latimer see it as a chance to tell Indigenous stories to people all around the world.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
The TV Junkies: Have you always wanted to direct? Can you share a little about your background?
Michelle Latimer: I studied Theatre Performance and intended to go into performance. When I graduated Concordia University, I was doing a lot of theater and transitioned to film and television. My first union role out of school, I was 20 years old, was cast as a lead in 47 episodes on the series Paradise Falls. I went into the arts because I believe in social change and social justice. As much as I enjoyed the role, and learned a lot on set, I quickly realized that in order to have a voice about the things I was most passionate about, it was very difficult to do that as an actor. To have real voice and real power to change things I had to be behind the camera.