Two bars and a drag queen & powwow clothing thief shine in film screening at Hamilton gallery


Published March 20, 2024 at 7:19 pm

Shelly Niro - Honey Moccasin

The Art Gallery of Hamilton is rolling out the red carpet for Mohawk artist Shelly Niro with a special screening of her film, Honey Moccasin, at the downtown gallery March 28.

Niro, whose 500 Year Itch exhibition is now showing at the gallery, will also have a showing of another of her films, Café Daughter, at the Westdale Theatre April 28.

Honey Moccasin, the first movie of its kind made by an Indigenous filmmaker, is set on the fictional Grand Pine Indian Reservation (‘Reservation X’) and employs a hybrid pastiche of styles that depicts the rivalry between two bars, the Smoking Moccasin and the Inukshuk Cafe, the tale of closeted drag queen/powwow clothing thief Zachery John (Billy Merasty), and the travails of the crusading investigator/storyteller Honey Moccasin, played by Canadian acting legend Tantoo Cardinal.

An irreverent parody of familiar narrative strategies, Honey Moccasin “forges an oppositional aesthetic via its re-appropriation of the conventions of melodrama, performance art, cable access, and a ‘whodunit’ style” to investigate notions of authenticity, cultural identity, gender roles, and the articulation of contemporary native North American experiences.

Niro is a Bay of Quinte Mohawk who had her interest in art sparked by a graphic arts course at Durham College in Oshawa before going on to the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD) in Toronto. In 2019 Niro was awarded an honorary doctorate from OCAD.

She was also the inaugural recipient of the Aboriginal Arts Award from the Ontario Arts Council in 2012 and in 2017 received the Governor General’s Award for the Arts from Canada Council, the Scotiabank Photography Award and the Hnatsyshyn Foundation Reveal Award.

Showtime for Honey Moccasin will be 6:30 on Thursday, March 28, with the film running approximately 90 minutes. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Niro and RBC Artist in Residence Melissa General.

Tickets for the screening are $10 for the general public, $8 for art gallery members and $5 for students. Indigenous people are free.

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