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Bones of Crows film image, director Marie Clements

Bones of Crows

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In these troubled and lopsided times, we need our storytellers to help us understand our inheritance, be it pain or privilege, and to lay the intellectual and emotional groundwork not only for reconciliation, but for reparation and restoration. Vancouver-born Dene/Métis writer-director Marie Clements (whose previous films The Road Forward and Red Snow have been part of VIFF’s year-round and festival programming) squares up to the challenge with this bold, necessarily harrowing tale of oppression and resilience which spans the greater part of the 20th century.

Aline Spears (played at different ages by Grace Dove, Summer Testawich, and Carla Rae) is a happy, gifted child, until she and her siblings are removed to a residential school. The scars of that experience will run deep through the remainder of their days, though it will not be the only time that official government policy will act as an instrument of abuse and trauma. Despite this, Aline enlists in WWII, where, ironically, her fluency in Cree becomes a national asset. The reward for her service is yet more anguish and struggle.

This is a tough film, but it has epic ambition, deep-rooted conviction, anger, and urgency. Clements is not afraid to make provocative and important connections, and she marshals an outstanding cast of Indigenous actors with care and compassion.

This program contains scenes that may distress some viewers, especially those who have experienced harm, abuse, violence, and/or intergenerational trauma due to colonial practices.

Marie Clements is a genius creator and I watched Bones of Crows with a mix of sadness for the story but also a wonder for the artistry. This film is a modern classic, featuring so many extraordinary artists in front of and behind the camera. It is the definition of Indigenous excellence. Fun Fact: Marie Clements founded Urban Ink in 2001, and produced over a dozen new works of theatre including Burning Vision (2003), Urban Tattoo (2002), and Copper Thunderbird (2007).

Corey Payette, Guest Curator


Free admission to Indigenous-identifying patrons


Marie Clements


Grace Dove, Phillip Forest Lewitski, Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Michelle Thrush, Gail Maurice, Carla Rae

Country of Origin





In English, Cree, ʔayʔajuθəm and Italian with English subtitles

Content Warning

Residential Schools, sexual violence, child abuse, racial discrimination, coarse language


Open to youth!

127 min
Ayasew Ooskana Pictures, Marie Clements Media, Screen Siren Pictures, Grana Productions

Book Tickets

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Executive Producer

Marie Clements, Sam Grana, Aaron Gilbert, Steven Thibault, Noah Segal


Marie Clements, Trish Dolman, Christine Haebler


Marie Clements


Vince Arvidson


Maxime Lahaie

Production Design

James Philpott

Original Music

Jesse Zubot, Wayne Lavallee

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