Distributor:  National Film Board of Canada
Length:  56 minutes
Date:  2013
Genre:  Expository
Language:  English
Closed captioning available
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After years of struggle and shame, five First Nations Canadians are bravely telling their stories about their struggle with alcoholism and the role of traditional culture in long-term sobriety.


After years of struggle and shame, five First Nations Canadians are bravely telling their stories.

Crazywater is an emotional and revealing exploration of substance abuse among First Nations people in Canada, directed by Inuvialuit filmmaker Dennis Allen. Rarely have Aboriginal perspectives on the sensitive topic of alcoholism been presented in such an honest and forthright manner.

Dennis introduces Alex, Stephen, Paula and Desirae, who courageously share their experiences. Alexs struggles with alcoholism were an attempt to forget the abuse he suffered at a residential school. Drinking and drug use were Stephens way of burying the childhood trauma he couldn't bear. For Paula and Desirae, two mothers with a dark history of addiction, family becomes the key to breaking the cycle of abuse.

Like his subjects, the director himself is a recovering alcoholic. Dennis describes his decades-long battle with alcoholism, which began when he took his first drink when he was only a boy.The survivors maintain a deep and devoted commitment to their traditional Aboriginal cultures as a means to achieving long-term sobriety. Through their voices, this insightful documentary offers an inspirational beacon of hope for those whose lives have been affected by addiction

“A very tight film for an interview style narrative documentary. Honest, real, true to life. ” “Great job of bringing the reality of our First Nation people to light. Hats off to the courage of the people who took part and shared their story. ”


Canada Montréal First Peoples' Festival ( Land InSights ) 30-Jul-2014 Canada Vancouver Doxa - Documentary Film and Video Festival 02-May-2014 Canada Whitehorse Available Light Film Festival 02-Feb-2014


Main credits

Allen, Dennis (film director)
Allen, Dennis (screenwriter)
Jacob, Selwyn J. (film producer)

Other credits

Editor, Carmen Pollard; director of photography, Kirk Tougas.

Distributor credits

Docuseek2 subjects

Alcohol, Drugs and Substance Abuse
Indigenous Studies

Distributor subjects

Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
Psychology and Psychiatry
Health and Medicine
Social Issues
Indians of North America
Native peoples


; "Crazywater"; National Film Board of Canada

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