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Grace Dove directorial debut showcased in short film Kiri and The Girl

Just when she thinks she’s going in one direction in her film and television career, she’s drawn to another.
Isla Grant in Kiri and The Girl
Isla Grant stars in the short film Kiri and The Girl, Grace Dove's directorial debut.

Just when she thinks she’s going in one direction in her film and television career, she’s drawn to another.

Grace Dove, who grew up in Prince George, perhaps best known for her starring role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in the Oscar winning movie The Revenant, is now making her directorial debut with the poignantly beautiful and visually stunning short film Kiri and The Girl, available now on Apple TV.

The film just finished its festival run garnering placements at St. John's International Women's Festival, American Indian Film Festival SF, San Diego International Film Festival and Victoria Film Festival after debuting at the Vancouver International Film Fest last fall, and Dove said she’s so proud of the film.

“People always asked if I was going to become a director, suggested that I should start directing my own films and I always kind of laughed at the idea,” Dove said. “I didn’t think that was even an option.”

She’s always been an actor and that is her chosen career or so she thought, she added.

“In acting there’s so much to learn,” Dove said. “And I knew this would be my craft for my entire life and so I never even considered moving on from acting but I’ve been doing this now for about a decade in Vancouver and I started to feel like we needed more Indigenous voices behind the camera and we needed more representation and proper representation so I think it kind of chose me and it was very apparent this was the right thing to do even though I never planned for it. It just felt like this was the time.”

Christopher Logan and Kiri Geen, two of the producers of the film Kiri and The Girl, reached out to Dove once the story was created and they had received a $100,000 grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, Dove said.

“They were looking for an Indigenous female director because the film is about a young Indigenous girl and they knew that they needed that female perspective,” Dove said.

The experience of directing taught Dove so much, she added.

“It has helped me in my acting career as well because you just see how many moving pieces there are and how many people it takes to lift something like this off the ground,” Dove said. “It was so much work, so many hours, especially during the time of Covid and just hours and hours and hours of Zoom with all of these amazing people so dedicated to their craft and it was so much fun creating it – I did everything from input on the outfit that little Kiri would wear to fighting for this one house that I absolutely loved to designing shots for the first time ever with the cinematographer Stirling Bancroft and learning what it truly takes to make a film.”

It taught her a lot about collaboration and how many people it takes to be totally committed to making a short film, she added.

“Because nobody is doing a short film for anything other than just our love for the craft,” Dove said.

Dove said the film has opened up doors for her as well.

“Everyone believes I am a director,” Dove laughed. “I show them this film and everyone is so blown away. I think for all of us – for Chris and Kiri and Ken Shapkin – all the producers - it’s an example of what we can do when someone gives us a shot and now we’re planning many features down the road.”

Is she done with acting or torn between the two loves – the old and the new?

“I thought I was throwing in the hat when it comes to acting,” Dove laughed. “I’ve been doing this for a long time and I feel exhausted and as soon as I thought maybe I’m retiring and stepping behind the camera I booked two new shows this year and may be working on a pilot so it’s so funny – the universe has its own plan for me and I hope to continue creating meaningful projects when it comes to my Indigeneity and representing my roots and fighting for our voices – whether that’s as an actor or director or both.”

Fans can see Dove taking the lead role this fall in Bones of Crows, a new original five-part psychological drama and feature film directed by Marie Clements and commissioned by CBC/Radio-Canada in association with APTN.

Dove is very aware of her position in the television and film industry and always looks to lift up Indigenous youth any way she can and support her home town.

“I actually have been offered to direct a feature and it’s going to be huge and I plan on bringing it to the north and I could be there as soon as the fall and if not maybe the spring and my dreams are to be able to start making films in the north and to involve Prince George and I think there’s so many opportunities up there for locations, people, for community and I really just want to show young people that being in the film industry is a real job and there’s so many opportunities, especially for Indigenous youth, to get into this industry.”