Sarah Abbott is currently a doctoral candidate (ABD) in interdisciplinary social sciences at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. Through public ethnographic inquiry and Indigenous Research Methodology, her dissertation research and resulting film aim to understand and share knowledge of the sentient relationality of trees with public and academic audiences. Sarah received a Vanier Canada Scholarship to support her doctoral studies (2014-2017).
Sarah’s independent films, artist works, and community projects have focused on experiences of being, human rights, ethics and the environment for over twenty years. Her film work in all genres (documentary, narrative, experimental, and dance) has received national and international attention through film festivals, television broadcasts, awards, and grants. Sarah received the 2012 Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award for Arts and Learning, and the 2009 Regina Mayor’s Arts and Business Awards for Innovation in recognition of her filmmaking endeavours, innovative teaching, ability to bridge cultures, commitment to empowering people, and passion for communicating hard-hitting issues. Her film work and community projects have largely focused on Indigenous issues and culture since her documentary Tide Marks (2004), about the lives of four people who fought apartheid at the grassroots level, ten years after South Africa’s first democratic elections.
At the University of Regina, Sarah is an associate professor in the Department of Film, Faculty of Media, Art, and Performance (MAP). She teaches film production and is developing a MAP course in climate change for Winter 2020. In 2006, she developed a teaching model wherein film production students work alongside film industry experts on a professionally-run set. She produced two half-hour dramatic films through these classes: Out In The Cold (2008), inspired by the freezing deaths of Indigenous men, allegedly at the hands of Saskatoon police; and This Time Last Winter (2010), which explores violence in young relationships, interracial relationships, and the healing potential of talking circles. Following the Saskatchewan premiere screenings of these films, Sarah held panel discussions on the topics of Indigenous/police relations and violence in young relationships with Regina and Saskatoon police chiefs and local experts participating. From 2005 to 2010, Sarah was the driving force behind the founding of mispon – A Celebration of Indigenous Filmmaking film festival and advocacy collective in Regina. In 2013, she developed a media literacy course for Indigenous youth held at a Regina community centre, Engaging Media and Indigenous Youth.
Experiences of being, the environment, nonhuman cognition and standing, human rights, Indigenous cultures and issues, ethics, community engagement, ethnographic inquiry.
- In progress – Doctor of Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary Studies, Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences, Royal Roads University, Victoria, British Columbia, expected graduation 2020. Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship (2014-2017).
- MFA, Media Arts, Syracuse University, Syracuse, New York, 2003. All-University Graduate Fellowship (2000-2003).
- BA Hons, Film Studies and Drama, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, 1991.
|2014-2017||Vanier Canada Scholarship|
|2013||Engaging Media and Indigenous Youth, community-based 8-week teaching project developed by Sarah to engage Indigenous youth on issues of media literacy and Indigenous culture, and to develop knowledge and skills in media awareness and Indigenous filmmaking, communication and critical thinking. Video about the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wwStVgPDD8
This Time Last Winter the Making Of (25:00, Canada). Behind the scenes on the production of This Time Last Winter, with commentary on the making of the film by key crew members and actors: www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CSYTh-vbfM
|2012||Saskatchewan Lieutenant Governor’s Arts Award for Arts and Learning.|
|2011||In the Minds of All Beings: Tsogyal Latso of Tibet (21:00, Tibet/Canada/USA). Documentary about Yeshe Tsogyal, the first enlightened woman in Tibet; shot on location in Central Tibet. Directed, shot and edited by Sarah Abbott, written by Sarah Abbott & Lama Dechen Yeshe Wangmo. View the film: https://vimeo.com/189511924|
|2010||This Time Last Winter (25:00, Canada). Narrative film about violence in young relationships, interracial relationships, and the healing potential of talking circles. Directed by Ann Verrall, written by Sarah Abbott and Ann Verrall, produced by Sarah Abbott. Award: Best Actress Danna Henderson), Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, 2010. Film trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYEhg6oZR8A&t=2s|
|2009||Regina Mayor’s Arts and Business Award for Innovation in the Arts for production of Out In The Cold.|
- 2008 – Out In The Cold (30:00, Canada). Narrative film inspired by the freezing deaths of First Nations men in Saskatoon allegedly at the hands of police. Directed by Colleen Murphy, produced and edited by Sarah Abbott. Award: Best Special Effects, University of Toronto Film Festival, 2010. Honourable Mention, Fiction Short, University Film and Video Association, 2013. Nominations: Best Live Action Short, American Indian Film Festival, 2008; Male Lead Performance (Gordon Tootoosis & Mathew Strongeagle), Editing, Original Score, and Post-Production Special Effects, Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association Showcase Awards, 2009. For this work, Sarah was one of five URegina faculty featured in Realize, the university president’s 2009 report to the community.
- 2008 – The Last Fish, guest curated exhibition at the MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina. Sarah’s artist engagement with the permanent collection resulted in an exhibition centered on an homage to the last fish alive in the face of ecological crisis due to human impact on the environment, and the notion we used to take for granted that the environment would be abundant, pristine, and forever available to us.
- 2005-2010 – Co-founder and President of mispon: A Celebration of Indigenous Film festival, Regina
- 2005-2006 – Co-coordinator of the Food Bank Lecture series, University of Regina and the Regina Food Bank. Lunchtime speaker series designed to bring food bank users and URegina faculty and students together for inspiring talks and lunch.
- 2004 – Tide Marks (97:00, Canada/USA/South Africa). Feature-length documentary explores aspects of post-apartheid South Africa ten years after the first democratic elections, with a focus on the lives of four former freedom fighters. Directed, written, produced, shot and edited by Sarah Abbott. Shot on location in Cape Town, South Africa. View Excerpts from Tide Marks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-9_Yf-ZvWM&list=UUnA520UldjwDlv2qFHlf3Lw
- 2000-2003 – Art video works produced through Master of Fine Arts degree. looking back to see (19:30, USA/Canada) was one of five video works selected by Lewis Kaye for his curated exhibition exploring archival issues, Hearing Video (Vtape, March 2018).
- 1999 – The Light in our Lizard Bellies (8:00, Canada). Dance film featuring performance, choreography and vocal work of Susanna Hood. Directed, written, produced, edited and shot by Sarah Abbott. Award: Honourable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2000. Film included in DVD compilations released through the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, and the University Film and Video Association in the United States.
- 1997 – Why I Hate Bees (4:00, Canada). A comedic experimental reflection of a young girl’s memories of near death experiences, based on the short story by Nancy Jo Cullen. Directed, written, produced, edited and shot by Sarah Abbott. Awards: Grand Prize – Cabbagetown Film Festival, Toronto, 1999; Best Canadian Lesbian Short, Inside Out, Toronto, 1998; Honourable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2000.
- 1997 – Froglight (3:30, Canada). Experimental reflection on having faith in the unknown. Directed, written, produced, edited and shot by Sarah Abbott. Award: Honourable Mention, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 2000.
- 1991 – My Withered Tomato Friend (9:00, Canada). An experimental film questioning conventional ideologies of representation of women and the denial of domestic violence. Made in total collaboration with Michelle Harrison. Award:“One Star,” Canadian International Film Festival, 1992.
Abbott S. (forthcoming). Filming with Nonhumans. In Vannini, P. (Ed.), Handbook of ethnographic research. London: Routledge.
Vannini, P. and Abbott, S. (forthcoming). Academics writing for a broader public audience. In Leavy, P. (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Methods for Public Scholarship (pp. 603-622). New York: Oxford University Press.
Abbott, S. and Vannini, P. (2019). After the fine cut: Disseminating video-based research. In Kleinknecht, S., van den Scott, L., and Sanders, C. (Eds.), The Craft of Qualitative Research: A Handbook (pp. 358–364). Toronto: Canadian Scholars’ Press.
Vannini, P. & Abbott S. (2018). Going public: The reach and impact of ethnographic research. In Leavy, P. (Ed.), Handbook of arts-based research (pp. 689-704). New York: Guilford Press.