Canadian actress/producer Jennifer Podemski will be returning to the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) with a starring role in Fire Song, produced by Big Soul Productions Inc., and Thunderstone Pictures. Having spent the majority of her life both in front of, and behind the camera, Podemski is an acclaimed actor, producer and director of both television and film.
Fire Song is a thoughtful and moving debut feature by director Adam Garnet Jones. Podemski plays Jackie, an Anishinaabe mother, whose son Shane (Andrew Martin), in the aftermath his sister’s suicide, is torn between his responsibilities at home, and his plan to move away for university with his boyfriend.
I am so grateful to have worked on this film. I loved the script and the process was so enriching. Fire Song is more than a film – it was a training ground for fresh indigenous, raw talent, many of them from the region of Northwestern Ontario,” said Podemski. “It’s a story that needs to be told, touching on provocative themes that will hit home for many people.”
Podemski also has a second TIFF entry as executive producer of one of the festival’s short films, Clouds of Autumn. Set on the Tsilhqot’in plateau in the 1970s, Clouds of Autumn focuses on two siblings, and explores the impact that Canadian residential schools had on the relationships of First Nations children with each other, their heritage, and nature itself.
Podemski can be seen in Jimmy P alongside Benicio Del Toro (directed by Arnaud Desplechin); in Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz with Sarah Silverman and Michelle Williams; and in Blackstone (APTN) as Dr. Crowshoe. She is most well known for her recent role as Minnie, the matriarch of a dysfunctional family in her award-winning, critically acclaimed first feature film, Empire of Dirt (directed by Peter Stebbings) which had its world premiere at TIFF 2013. Podemski not only starred in the film, but produced it as well. Empire of Dirt garnered five nominations at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards, taking home the Best Screenwriter Award, and TIFF awarded the film Best Canadian Feature Film as a Special Jury Citation. Podemski also received a nomination for Best Outstanding Performance for her work on the film at last year’s ACTRA Awards, and for Best Supporting Actress from the American Indian Film Festival, where the movie also received a nomination for Best Film.
Podemski is also the co-executive producer of the Indspire Awards (Global TV, APTN), the only awards show celebrating Indigenous Achievement in Canada. The Awards have received multiple nominations from the Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Entertainment Special in 2015, and Best Variety or Sketch Comedy Program or Series in 2014. She is also the creator and producer of multiple television series including three seasons of the first all aboriginal drama Moccasin Flats (Showcase, APTN), two seasons of the supernatural cop drama Rabbit Fall (Space, APTN), and two seasons of a factual paranormal ghost hunting series The Other Side which has just been greenlit for a third season.
In 2013, Podemski was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work with her Indigenous community. She currently lives in Barrie, Ontario where she operates her independent production company Redcloud Studios Inc.
For more information on Jennifer Podemski, visit jenniferpodemski.com.