Dana Inkster is an artist of African descent who has worked in the education and cultural sectors since 1995. She recognizes storytelling as the primary tool that shapes our communities. Dana has been profiled by numerous publications; and journalists and cultural theorists from around the world have lauded her documentary film work. Her documentary, 24 Days in Brooks (2007) was co-produced by the National Film Board of Canada and CBC Newsworld. She continues to make independent documentaries that explore personal and cultural histories. She has served as faculty and played key roles in fund development for a number of institutions. For years, Dana’s company has been publishing Lethbridge Living Magazine. Most recently, Dana has agreed to write the memoir of her 81-year-old father, former Commissioner of the RCMP and President of Interpol, Norman Inkster.
Where were you born, where did you grow up, where do you live now?
I was born in Ottawa, ON, and now live with my partner and son in Lethbridge, AB.
First film you made, and where and when?
The first film I made was verité, a short about a performance by dub poet Clifton Joseph when I lived in Toronto in 1996
Latest film you made, and where and when?
The last film I made was Ladies of the Saturday Night about the African-American madams that ran brothels in a Drumheller, Alberta boomtown for Al Capone.
Describe your current living space.
My partner and I built our dream home in 2019. A modern duplex in downtown Lethbridge (pop. 100,000). If I have to be trapped in a box this is the box for me. Lots of natural light on the first and second floors.
What Canadian would you challenge to make an isolation movie?
Yung Chang or Deanna Bowen.
In the history of cinema whose isolation move would you want to see?
Julie Dash, Jane Campion.
Worst thing about being in isolation?
Impending financial oblivion and destitution because my small local business has disintegrated. It disappeared in three days but will take a year or two to rebuild.
Best thing about being in isolation?
I love having my family near.
Favourite book to read in isolation?
Stress has destroyed my ability to quiet my mind to read.
Favourite music to listen to in isolation?
Motown classics lift me up. Marvin Gaye. I take my dog on hour-long walks listening to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” on repeat.
Favourite movies to watch in isolation?
I just want to watch documentaries and more documentaries. But in an effort to have quality-time with my son, I have taken to sharing time watching blockbusters as well. Marvel Universe until I can’t take it anymore. He is dragging me through the Adam Sandler filmography. He sees things I don’t. Somehow, my partner is absent from these screenings. I believe it is because she does the lion’s share of the homeschooling.
Favourite meal in isolation?
My partner does ALL the cooking. She says cooking relaxes her. I say, “OK.” She loves to make me all my favourite meals and has for the past 20 years. I haven’t made a meal in 12 weeks. She makes extra at dinner so I can enjoy my favourite meals as leftovers for lunch the next day. People ask me why I still live in Lethbridge, this is one of the major reasons why.
What’s the last best thing you cooked?
I don’t cook. I discovered meal kits in 2019. The moment of awe has passed. I call the kitchen “the God-forsaken room”. I actually cause bodily harm to myself when boiling water on a stovetop. As a young single person, I lived-off pasta with jarred sauce and bagels with melted cheese made in my toaster oven for a decade. It was fine but I didn’t entertain.
Any other question you’d like to answer?
I self-identified as “a hugger” many years ago. Millennials were helping me understand the importance of seeking permission before an embrace…I was totally there. Then COVID. Absolutely no hugs is hard.