Many talented artists have come from Poundmaker Cree Nation, and now one is returning to produce and direct a feature film.

Floyd Favel is a theatre director, performer and playwright. He is well-known in Canada’s theatre scene, and for his first feature film he has returned to his home community.

“This is an Indigenous film and it comes from our own people within our own working structures,” Favel said. “We build work within our own places as Indigenous people. That was important for me. ”

Many people from the Poundmaker Cree Nation are helping with the project. Some are acting as extras on set, while others have helped with transportation, catering and costume design.

“It keeps the people engaged and busy and kind of excited,” Milton Tootoosis, headman of Poundmaker Cree Nation, said. “When the film comes out… I think a lot of people here will be very proud to say, ‘Yeah that’s our little community and that’s our guy,’” he said.

The film, titled Sweet Cherry Wine, is set in a fictional Indigenous community. It takes place in the present day with flashbacks to the 1950s. The story is about an elderly woman in the hospital whose son and daughter-in-law come to visit her. Throughout the film she recounts the story of her first love to a man who is murdered by white people in a nearby town.

When asked what Favel hopes people will take away from the film, he said he wants them to enjoy the story but remember the racism continues today.

“I hope they can take away that they watched a beautiful love story — a bit of romanticism, a bit of belief in love,” he said. “And also [that they] recognize this province and this country’s past and their treatment of Indigenous people and still ongoing treatment of Indigenous people.”

Favel has cast actors from across Canada, including Algonquin actress Emilie Monnet and Kanai actor Justin Many Fingers.

Local actress Aidyn Nevaquaya is the late Gordon Tootoosis’s granddaughter. Tootoosis was a Canadian actor from Poundmaker Cree Nation, well-known for his roles in films like Legends of the Fall, Pocahontas and Alien Thunder.

Gordon Tootoosis passed away in 2011. When asked what he would think of his granddaughter acting in her first feature film, Nevaquaya said he would have loved it.

“I think he would be really proud of me,” she said. “Because we talked about it so much and he really wanted me to do this.”

Sweet Cherry Wine will premiere next spring.