(via NFB) Edmonton filmmaker Gil Cardinal passed away on November 21 at the age of 65. Cardinal was of Métis descent and made award winning films that focused on subjects like cultural struggles, alcohol abuse and foster care. Aside from moviemaking, Cardinal directed TV series such as The Rez and North of 60. He also wrote the pilot episode for Blackstone which focused on indigenous community problems.
Cardinal had spent many of his early years as a freelancer working for the National Film Board of Canada, where he wrote, directed, edited, and did research for productions. His first ever film created with NFB was Children of Alcohol, which was a documentary about substance abuse and how it affects the pre-teens and teens who have to face alcoholic parents. Other productions include David with F.A.S., The Spirit Within, and Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole. But the one film that remains most closely identified with him, and is considered one of the best ever, is Foster Child, a documentary where Cardinal goes on a search for his family roots, finally learning the true identity and tragic story of his mother.
Cardinal received awards for his work including a Gemini for Best Direction for a Documentary Program in 1988 (Foster Child), a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for Film and Television, and the David Billington Award for all his help to Alberta’s film industry. A true impact on Canada’s film industry, Gil Cardinal will be missed. NFB has implemented a playlist named “The Aboriginal Voice: The National Film Board and Aboriginal Filmmaking through the Years” which he had curated himself.