Star-Studded Doc “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World” Closes SJIWFF

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The St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival (SJIWFF) is screening Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World at their Closing Night Gala on Sunday, October 22nd at 7:00pm in the Scotiabank Theatre in the Avalon Mall.

The award-winning documentary looks at the influence of Native American music on popular music in the U.S. The film alternates between interviews with rock stars and music scholars, and footage of iconic performances from artists like Buffy Saint Marie and Jimi Hendrix.

“I think people are going to recognize a lot of the songs, they’re going to know a lot of the rockstars,” director Catherine Bainbridge said. “And they’re going to be surprised by what they learn; for some people it might open up a new part of their understanding about this land we’re all on together.”

Bainbridge is an executive producer at Rezolution Pictures, a Montreal-based production company that focuses on telling Indigenous stories. When curators of a popular exhibit at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian, called “Up Where We Belong: Native Musicians in Popular Music,” approached Rezolution to see if they would be interested in making a doc inspired by the exhibit, the production company jumped on the opportunity.

“I never even considered that Indigenous music might have been an influence on blues and jazz and the roots of American popular music. It never even occurred to me, and it seems so obvious once you start looking into the history,” Bainbridge said. “…it makes me wonder what else I don’t know about our foundations in North America.”

The fast-paced film begins with a celebration of electric-guitarist Link Ray, flipping between footage of him playing and testaments from a series of certified rock-gods explaining what a huge influence his music had on them.

“We decided we wanted to open with rock and Link Ray because we wanted to let to people know this is a music film, it’s contemporary, you can relate to it and it matters now,” Bainbridge explained.

After covering Link Ray, the film shoots further back in time to look at the significant role Native American music played in the birth of blues and Jazz. From there it zooms through the history of rock and roll, revealing how Indigenous artists helped shape pop music. All of the interview subjects in the film are animated and engaging, their passion is contagious.

“At the Sundance Film Festival, we won the jury prize for masterful storytelling, we’re so honoured by that, and we’re particularly honoured because the film is filled with storytellers,” Bainbridge said.

“That award acknowledges all the storytellers in the film who’ve spent lifetimes researching, living, and understanding this subject matter.”

Bainbridge is thrilled to be coming to St. John’s to attend the Closing Night Gala screening of Rumble, and to speak on a panel about documentary filmmaking. At the “Doc Talk” panel, Bainbridge and filmmakers Attiya Khan and Jessica Beshir will talk about documentaries as activism and entertainment.

“There’s a lot of great film festivals in the world and I’ve only been to SJIWFF once, but honestly it’s my favourite one,” Bainbridge said.

“Newfoundland is one of the most dramatically beautiful places I’ve ever been but the landscape pales in comparison to the beauty of the people. The festival is so well organized, it’s so fun, it’s so down to earth and I love that it’s a women’s film festival.”

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Eva Crocker

Eva Crocker is a writer from St. John's, her short story collection, Barrelling Forward, was published by House of Anansi Press in 2017.

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