The death of Mi'kmaq director Jeff Barnaby in October 2022 has caused a stir in the film community. An important figure in contemporary Indigenous cinema, he succeeded in renewing horror cinema through the prism of his cultural heritage, making both resonate in the world today. In just a few shorts and two features, he has imposed new narratives with style and confidence, playing with the codes of genre cinema to articulate an ever constructive political thought. He has left us a work of lasting impact and relevance, although far too short.
Born in 1976, Jeff Barnaby grew up on the Listuguj Mi'kmaq reserve in Quebec. He studied film at Dawson College and Concordia University. In the 2000s, he directed several short films, including File Under Miscellaneous, which earned him a Genie Award nomination in 2010. A few years later, he signed his first feature film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, which received a lot of attention at its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. In 2015, the National Film Board of Canada invited him to participate in the collective project Souvenir, which brings together four First Nations filmmakers. In 2019, Jeff Barnaby's second feature film, Blood Quantum, confirmed him as one of Canada's leading emerging filmmakers, but he died prematurely of illness in 2022.