MVE kids’ film brings Pocahantas’ story to life

By David F. Rooney

It’s almost an axiom that kids are better at high technology than their parents, and Wednesday evening the parents of school children at Mountain View Elementary saw just how true that is with the premiere of a student-made film about Pocahantas.

We all know the general story: Pocahantas, daughter of Chief Powhatan befriends Captain John Smith, one of the leaders of the 17th century English colony at Jamestown, Virginia. That friendship helps save the colony during its early years and, later, she marries colonist John Rolfe, travels with him and their children to England where she she falls ill and dies. It’s a tale made romantic through countless retellings in print and film.

And now the most recent retelling of the story comes from kids in Grades 1-7 at Mountain View Elementary School who made a short film with Elementary Aboriginal Student Assistant Jannica Hoskins last year.

“The children filmed it, acted in it, made all the costumes and sets,” Hoskins said as she helped serve a tasting of native foods, including oyster stew and wild rice, to parents and kids at the screening on Wednesday.

“It took most of the year to complete and they finished it in June. Then I slapped it together with a couple of students over the summer.”

The result was a delightful little film that was augmented by live narration and singing by MVE students. The children’s home-made costumes were truly delightful, as were their sets that included berry picking, eating outdoors, canoeing and fishing in a faux birchbark canoe, scraping animal hides and dancing.

Scores of parents and children attended the event in the school gym and enthusiastically applauded at the end.

Here is a selection of images from the premiere:

School Trustee Doug Hamilton was among the crowd of parents and children at Mountain View Elementary for the screening of Pocahantas. David F. Rooney photo
Students explain how their project came to life. Jannica Hoskins, School District 19's popular aboriginal education assistant, is to their right in the back. Hoskins, who starred in a film, Fallen Feather, about the way native children were abused and lost their cultural heritage at church-run schools during the 20th century, said she had a lot of fun working with the children. David F. Rooney photo
MVE children took turns reading the script that introduced the audience to their film. David F. Rooney photo
MVE Principal Bob Cooper prepares to screen the film. David F. Rooney photo
The school's children enthusiastically participated in the film, making the costumes and sets and doing most of the actual filming. David F. Rooney photo
MVE children raise their songbooks at the conclusion of their rendition of The Belief Song, a traditional Algonquin song that Aboriginal Education Assistant Jannica Hoskins (at the right beating a drum) taught them. David F. Rooney photo
Famished kids were delighted by the bannock, oyster stew and wild rice that Jannica Hoskins provided as "a native foods tasting" after the premiere of their film. David F. Rooney photo
Parent Phil Parr reads the story of Pocahantas on a poster as he and his family left at the conclusion of Wednesday's premiere. David F. Rooney photo