TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2012 /CNW/ - The TVO-commissioned documentary Smoke Traders makes its world broadcast premiere on TVO Wednesday October 24 at 9 pm. The hour-long film from Rezolution Pictures ignites a debate about the Mohawk Nation's involvement in the tobacco trade, raising issues of sovereignty, economic independence, and entrepreneurship versus illegal activity.
Director and writer Jeff Dorn, along with co-director and producer Catherine Bainbridge, followed the story over three years, gaining the trust of the media-wary Ontario Mohawk communities of Akwesasne and Kahnawake, as well as communities in Manitoba and Alberta, to offer a story that goes beyond the headlines and a perspective that is rarely seen. While the story of the Native smoke trade has generally been told in strictly legal and criminal terms, Smoke Traders approaches the story from the viewpoint of the Aboriginal men and women involved in the trade.
Smoke Traders shows how cigarettes have been an economic boon for Native communities, providing jobs and community services and lifting them out of what some members of the community consider "third world" status. The men and women profiled in Smoke Traders don't see themselves as criminals, but rather they feel they are the victims. They maintain that they have an inherent right to sell tobacco. Through the sale of cigarettes, the Native communities in Smoke Traders see a path out of poverty and toward independence, but the Canadian government sees billions of tax dollars lost each year.
Following Smoke Traders' premiere at Hot Docs earlier this year the Torontoist.com said the film is "both touching and informative, painting a picture of a part of modern Canada that is rarely profiled." And See Change Magazine said Smoke Traders is "an eye-opening documentary that, in only 51 minutes, managed to make me feel at once frustrated, uncertain and inspired."
Smoke Traders will also air October 24 at midnight, Sunday October 28 at 9 pm and Tuesday October 30 at 9 pm. Smoke Traders will also be available on TVO's Doc Studio, an online learning community and showcase for documentary filmmakers.
"TVO is dedicated to supporting documentaries that engage Ontario viewers in the issues facing our province and country," says Jane Jankovic, commissioning editor for TVO. "The selling of cheap cigarettes on Native Reserves is a controversial story. Rezolution Pictures tells this story from a Mohawk point-of-view. We hope Smoke Traders will stir up a good, constructive debate about the issue."
TVO is Ontario's public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO's vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.
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