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Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On

Directed by:

Madison Thomas


90 minutes

Experience the story of the Oscar-winning Indigenous artist from her rise to prominence in New York’s Greenwich Village folk music scene through her six-decade groundbreaking career as a singer-songwriter, social activist, educator and artist.


ONLINE - Wednesday, February 28, 2024 at 6:30 PM PST

Saturday, October 28, 2023 at 1:00 PM


On-Demand (Worldwide). October 30 - November 5

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On Official Trailer

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Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On chronicles Sainte-Marie’s rise in New York’s Greenwich Village folk music scene through her groundbreaking career, featuring never-before-seen archival material, new performance footage and interviews with Sainte-Marie, Joni Mitchell (singer, songwriter, artist), Sonia Manzano (Maria on Sesame Street), John Kay (lead singer-songwriter of Steppenwolf, solo artist), Robbie Robertson (musician), Jackson Browne (musician), George Stroumboulopoulos (music journalist), Andrea Warner (author) and more.


Over a career spanning six decades, Cree musician, artist, and activist Buffy Sainte-Marie has used her platform to campaign for Indigenous and women’s rights and inspired multiple generations of musicians, artists, and activists.


Sainte-Marie’s career took flight when she received a rave review in The New York Times and caught the eye of Vanguard Records, who released her debut album, It’s My Way. Consistently recognized for being ahead of her time, Sainte-Marie’s music revealed her most sincere opinions differentiating her from the other female pop musicians of the 1960s. Early in her career, she spoke out against the Vietnam War with her song “Universal Soldier,” against readily available opioids with “Cod’ine” and shared her views on romance with “Until It’s Time for You to Go,” which has been covered by artists such as Elvis, Barbra Streisand, Cher and Neil Diamond.


Sainte-Marie changed perceptions of Indigenous people in music, film, and television. When approached to play a lead role in a 1968 episode of The Virginian, she famously demanded that all Indigenous roles be played by Indigenous peoples. Additionally, across her five-year stint on Sesame Street, she was the first woman to nurse on television, and she helped create segments based on her experiences as an Indigenous woman in North America.


After winning the Academy Award for writing “Up Where We Belong” from An Officer and a Gentleman with her then-husband, Jack Nitzsche, Saint-Marie stepped out of the spotlight. She returned to music after a fourteen-year hiatus with her critically acclaimed album Coincidence and Likely Stories. In 2015, she beat out Drake for the Polaris Music Prize for her album Power in the Blood. 


At the age of 81, Sainte-Marie actively tours and continues to be an activist for Indigenous rights, including championing efforts to end the oppression of and violence against Indigenous women.

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On



filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png

Madison Thomas

filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png

filmmaker-Luke Stirtz.png

One of the most compelling and versatile filmmakers working in Canada today, Madison Thomas was named one of Playback Magazine's "Five Filmmakers to Watch" in 2019. A storyteller of mixed ancestry (Ojibwe/Saulteux & Russian/Ukrainian settler), Thomas is based out of Winnipeg, Manitoba in Treaty 1 territory. She has a rapidly growing number of credits as a writer, director, and editor across several genres, formats and platforms. Her nuanced and unique work has played festivals and won awards worldwide.

Thomas recently wrote and directed on Season IV of the CBC/CW/Netflix hit Burden of Truth. She also wrote and directed an episode of the new APTN Music Doc series "Amplify." Thomas served as a writer and voice director of the new TVO pre-school animated series "Wolf Joe." In the Spring of 2021, Thomas will go to the camera with her new Telefilm-supported feature, post-apocalyptic drama "Finality of Dusk" with Eagle Vision In Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Thomas launched onto the national stage from Winnipeg's indie film scene by appearing as a finalist on CBC's Short Film Faceoff in 2014. Since then Thomas has made several short narratives and docs including "Seven Drinks", "Exposed Nerves", "Zaasaakwe (Shout with Joy)" and "Fourth Period Burnout."

Thomas was a key director, editor, and researcher for the award-winning APTN/CBC Docu-Drama series Taken which shared the stories of Canada's Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls for four seasons. Thomas and the Taken research team were honored with a CSA nomination for their work on the series.

Thomas was one of eight selected for the Canadian Academy program for Female Directors in 2019. She is also an alumnus of the prestigious Women in the Director's Chair program as well as Prague Film School in the Czech Republic. Thomas was the first Indigenous person from Canada to ever attend the school.

A frequent collaborator with Darcy Waite, the team won Imaginative/ APTN Web-Series Pitch Competition in 2017 and created their family drama series "Colour of Scar Tissue" now available on APTN. The team went on to produce Thomas' feature "Ruthless Souls" with the Telefilm Talent to Watch Program. The film premiered at the 2019 ImagineNative Film Festival and went on to screen as part of the Perspective Canada program at the 2019 Berlindale film festival, and the 2020 Gimli Film Festival where Thomas won the DGC Best Manitoba Director Award.

Thomas is also a youth mentor and film advocate committed to empowering diverse and underrepresented voices. She is currently the co-chair of On-Screen Manitoba. From 2017-2019 she sat on the Telefilm Indigenous Advisory board. She's taught filmmaking and life skills to youth both in Winnipeg and across Canada since 2013. In 2016 Thomas gave a Ted talk called "Arts in the Hood" on her journey as an artist and the importance of art for inner city and low income youth.



Madison Thomas


Andrea Warner


Stephen Paniccia

Executive Producers

Rebecca Gibson

Stuart Henderson

Kyle Irving

Lisa Meeches

Andrew Munger

Steve Ord

Gilles Paquin

Peter Raymont


Justin Delorme


Andy Hourahine


Brina Romanek

Set Decorator

Philip Reimer

Production Manager

Ravelle Thomas

Sound Department

Daniel Pellerin, Re-recording Mixer

Elma Bello, Dialogue Editor

Michelle Irving, Sound Designer

Camera and Electrical Department

Damian Frazee, Camera Assistant

Sue Johnson, Additional Camera

Dana Plays, Additional Camera

Daniel Williams, Additional Camera

Editorial Department

Joseph Conrad, Assistant Editor

Shayne Hontiveros, Assistant Editor

Adrian Pop, Assistant Editor

Additional Crew

Amos Nadlersmith, Assistant Location Manager

Tina Apostolopoulos, Sr. Production Executive

Jennifer Dysart, Visual Researcher

Christopher Fernandes, Production Assistant

Bailey Johnson, Researcher

Jessica Joy Wise, Archive Producer

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