Shirley Cheechoo

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Shirley Cheechoo - courtesy of the filmmaker

Shirley Cheechoo (Cree) began directing films in 1998, after working as an actor and writing such notable plays as Path with No Moccasins (1991). Cheechoo teaches drama workshops to Native youth across Ontario, and has founded a touring youth drama company, the Debahjehmujig Theatre Group, which often performs in the Ojibwe language. She has won first prize awards for her works at numerous film festivals including Montreal's First Peoples Festival, the Santa Fe Film Festival, and the American Indian Film Festival of San Francisco. In 2002 Cheechoo was named Independent Filmmaker of the Year at the Arizona International Film Festival.

March 2004


"I am drawn to films that have a certain honesty to them. Since my mom told me stories as a young child, I always wanted to be a storyteller. I am a writer; I write in order to direct. I write the script on paper, and then I write while I am directing the film, and then I write again as I sit and edit. You are writing throughout the whole process. I think that with this form of filmmaking the film finds itself and its audience. I want to make films that tell a story about life itself."


2005, Johnny Tootall, Best Film, American Indian Film Festival

Screened by NMAI:

Johnny Tootall (2005), Director
Pikutiskwaau/Mother Earth (2002), Director
Christmas in the Clouds (2001), Cast
Tracks in the Snow (2000), Director, Producer, Writer
Bearwalker (formerly titled 'Backroads') (2000), Writer, Cast, Director, Producer
Silent Tears (1997), Producer, Writer, Director, Cast


En Español

Film & Video Center, NMAI–NY
National Museum of the American Indian 
Smithsonian Institution 
One Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004
Phone: 212-514-3737
Fax: 212-514-3725