HotDocs ’23: Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun

Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before The Sun tells the story of Logan Red Crow, a young Siksika woman who is determined to race in one of the most dangerous horse races in the world. Although the field is traditionally filled with men, Logan’s courage and indomitable spirit push her to prepare for the wild bareback relay competitions of Indian Relay Racing. With a fire in her belly, Logan’s connections with her animals, passion for ancestral traditions and incredible skills as a rider help her excel in a world of masculine bias. 

Directed by Banchi Hanuse, Before the Sun is a compelling and strongly-executed character study that is bound to please audiences. However, although the film features thrilling competitions, the most compelling aspect of the film is Logan herself. As a young woman attempting to break ground in a male-dominated world, there’s a competitive earnestness about her that makes the viewer cheer for her successes and fear for her losses. (“I guess you could say that I have a reputation now of being the one who falls off. But I also want to be known as the one who gets back up,” she reminds us.)

Underneath her determination though, Logan and her family also bear the scars of years of oppression. For Logan, her family’s strength and courage is directly related to the traumas experienced as a First Nations person. (In fact, her father even highlights the damages done to his father as a result of his experiences in residential schools.) In this way, Hanuse’s film recognizes the devastation that still resonates within the First Nations communities yet also highlights the ways that they continue to rise from the ashes. Even amidst the pain of the past, there’s a joy embedded within Before The Sun that makes it a winner.

Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before The Sun is currently screening at HotDocs ’23. For more information, click here.

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