Photographer and apprentice Keith Koepke (left) along with filmmakers Asia Youngman and Trevor Mack hold up a signed poster of their film In the Valley of the Wild Horses which they presented to the organizers of the Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip Saturday., Nov. 10 at the Gibraltar Room. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

VIDEO: Filmmakers screen Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Trip documentary to full house in Williams Lake

The film was first premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival

It was an incredible experience.

That’s what Tsilhqot’in filmmaker Trevor Mack said after his latest film — In the Valley of Wild Horses about the Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip — was screened during a community celebration in Williams Lake.

“We had a packed house, we actually had to bring in more tables and chairs to accommodate everybody,” Mack said. “It was an emotional screening and it was an honour to not only take part in capturing the Xeni Gwet’in Wagon Trip, but mostly to show it to everybody here.”

Mack, along with filmmaker Asia Youngman and photographer and apprentice Keith Koepke, from Xeni Gwet’in, created the 25-minute film by accompanying the wagon trip from Xeni Gwet’in (Nemiah Valley) to the Williams Lake Stampede in June 2018.

“It was one of the greatest experiences in my life going on the trip,” Mack said, adding the film will help showcase the positive things about the Tsilhqot’in culture.

“It’s showing how proud we should be about what we are doing and that we should be showing these things to the world.”

The film premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival in October and will be screened at an upcoming festival in Australia, Youngman said.

Read more: New Xeni Gwet’in wagon trip documentary will premiere at Vancouver International Film Festival

“This is the screening that matters the most,” Youngman said of the Williams Lake event. “It really was a community film and that was the essence of the film — the community of Xeni Gwet’in — so having everyone here was so great.”

Koepke said seeing hundreds of people show up for the potluck beforehand and even more for the screening was great.

“I’m glad a lot of people got to see Xeni Gwet’in through this film,” Koepke said. “I’m excited for that.”

Mack said a large group of people attended the film’s premiere in Vancouver.

“All the youth came out and it was an incredible thing to see their faces on the big screen in the big city,” he said. “That’s what I want to do with my film making is show the best of our people and help inspire youth and other people to tell similar stories.”

Youngman said she is Cree, Iroquois, Carrier and Métis and lives in Vancouver.

“I was so honoured to be able to film this short documentary with Trevor and Keith,” she added.

Before screening In the Valley of Wild Horses Mack showed his previous short film The Blanketing about the impact of small pox on the Tsilhqot’in people and Bringing the Spirit Home which featured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s recent visit to the area for the exoneration of the war chiefs that he created with filmmaker Jeremy Williams and Koepke.

Read more: Trudeau exonerates hanged war chiefs of 1864 on B.C. Tsilhqot’in title lands

The film premiere in Williams Lake was a fundraiser for the 2019 Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon trip.

Gailene William, who helps with the wagon trip each year, said the committee raised $3,000 from donations at the door and sales of USB-copies of the film.

The USBs are still available for purchase, confirmed the wagon trip’s president Annie Setah-William, noting people wanting to purchase one can contact her through Facebook.

When asked what she likes about the film, Setah-William replied, “everything.”

“I love how it captured the emotions we feel on the trip and how we are holding back because we don’t want it to end.”

P.S. This reporter definitely has drone envy now after seeing the film. The drone footage is to die for.

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Crystal Cahoose (left) and Gailene William were manning the front door accepting donations and selling copies of the film on USB sticks. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Xeni Gwet’in Youth Wagon Trip leaders and some of the youth pose with the filmmakers. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

Xeni Gwet’in elder Eileen William celebrated her 80th birthday at the celebration. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

A drone image from In the Valley of Wild Horses. Photo submitted

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