About the film
Follow Joleen Mitton on her mission to use fashion as medicine for Vancouver’s Indigenous community. A former fashion model, Joleen is now a community leader and founder of Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week.
About the Director
Sean Stiller is an award-winning filmmaker specializing in documentary, Indigenous, commercial and commissioned films. Over the past seven years he has worked on a variety of productions, from TV series to feature length films and branded documentary series, as well as his own original projects. His films have screened domestically and internationally, at the Vancouver International Film Festival, Lunenberg Docs, Hot Docs Festival, ImagineNative, Planet In Focus Environmental Film Festival, Maoriland, and Maryland International Film Festival, among others. He is a 2020 recipient of the Hot Docs CrossCurrents Doc Fund. His first feature-length documentary, Returning Home, won Best Canadian Feature Documentary at the 2021 Vancouver International Film Festival, Calgary International Film Festival and the Edmonton International Film Festival. He is a member of the William's Lake First Nation (T’exelc), part of the Secwépemc Nation.
Ancestral Threads is a labour of love, and an opportunity to celebrate the life work of my dear friend, Joleen Mitton. When Joleen first imagined Vancouver Indigenous Fashion Week (VIFW), I saw it as just another fashion show, expressed through a cultural lens. I quickly understood that her vision encompasses so much more. It celebrates the best of Indigenous culture and honours our world class art. It's also connected to community accountability—to her daily commitment to support youth in care, and so many others who depend on her. At VIFW, I see elders and young people working intimately with one another, and a space where everyone's role is celebrated and held in high esteem. The impact of VIFW on each individual lives on far after the event itself. And in spite of the toll that community work demands, Joleen doesn't complain. On the contrary, she calls this her spirit work—her life purpose that gets her through long days of grinding effort. In a much smaller way, I see my practice as grounded in similar principles of trust and reciprocity. As a close friend and creative collaborator, my obligation is to tell her story with integrity and passion, to inspire people in the same way I've been inspired over the many years of our friendship.