Calgary Film Festival

Arts Commons Jack Singer Concert Hall, 205 8 Ave SE, Calgary Alberta

A vibrant celebration of Indigenous Canadian musicians - watch a music revolution happen right before your eyes. Co-presented with Movie Nights Across Canada, WHEN THEY AWAKE is the Calgary International Film Festival's Opening Gala selection. The festival’s marquee event, the evening will include a pre-reception (VIP tickets only), a film screening, and live performances by Indigenous musicians – join us for our biggest party of the year.

For hundreds of years, the indigenous populations of North America were stripped of their cultures, languages, and customs. But now, in a renaissance born out of centuries of hardship, the prescient words of Métis leader Louis Riel are proving true: "My people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists that give them their spirit back."

In WHEN THEY AWAKE, we follow the footsteps of trailblazers like Buffy Sainte-Marie and Robbie Robertson to modern Indigenous musicians in Canada and elsewhere, who are getting noticed on the mainstream scene, reclaiming their place as key players in contemporary society. From hip hop, rock, and electropop to EDM and country blues, a new generation of outspoken artists are channeling the frustrations and resilience of their ancestors into a stirring and hopeful vision of the future. Featuring Anishinaabe EDM group A Tribe Called Red, Cree trip-hop sensation IskWé, Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, Dene singer-songwriter Leela Gilday, and many more, WHEN THEY AWAKE is a journey into this tapestry of artists in the midst of a full-blown musical revolution that are speaking to the next generation of Indigenous Canadian youth.

Tickets General admission: $35, includes movie and after-party VIP: $75, includes a pre-reception, movie and after-party Doors & VIP Pre-Reception at 6:30 pm, film starts at 7:30 pm.


Confirmed performers All performances take place at the Jack Singer in Arts Commons

IsKwé (after party) In a world where we are constantly defining the sum of our lives through the filter of another’s gaze, genuinely unchained artists like Winnipeg-bred Hamilton-based singer-songwriter IsKwé (pronounced iss-kway) are becoming a rare breed. IsKwé is fostering an unmistakable sound that weaves together her Irish and Cree/Dené roots with poignant politically charged lyrics, dark soulful R&B rhythms, electronic flourishes, and trip hop breakbeats.