Fort Simpson filmmaker selected to work with Ryan Reynolds on project

Jiah Dzentu, is a filmmaker from Fort Simpson. Dzentu will be participating in a project with Ryan Reynolds. (Photo courtesy of Jiah Dzentu.)

An Indigenous filmmaker from Fort Simpson will be shadowing the director of a Netflix project after being selected for a competitive training program.  

Jiah Dzentu, who is Denesuline and Dehcho Dene and now lives in Whitehorse, is heading to B.C. to take part in an upcoming project.

Dzentu said they can’t give any details on the film at this time.

The project is organized by Canadian star Ryan Reynolds in an effort to involve more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) in the film industry. 

Reynolds is aiming to do this through a program called the Group Effort Initiative, which accepts between 10 and 20 BIPOC individuals to work on the project.

Dzentu said the project aims to encourage more film productions to involve BIPOC folks.  

“It’s a learning opportunity, it’s amazing,” Dzentu said. 

Upon discovering they had been selected for the program, Dzentu said they “freaked out.”

“My auntie and my cousin were upstairs and they thought I was injured,” Dzentu laughed. “I was so excited… I did not think I was going to be accepted.” 

Dzentu will be working with the director, affording them the opportunity to see all aspects of filmmaking.

Dzentu said they hope the opportunity will help correct misconceptions in the media on the North and Indigenous people, adding these story lines are often shown through a western perspective.

“I hope I can be another voice that’s just showing the world who we are,” Dzentu said. 

Dzentu says they began to work in film two years ago when they took part in an Indigenous youth filmmaking intensive program in Toronto.

This past February, Dzentu also worked with Reel Youth — a media empowerment project that offers film training programs.

Later Dzentu had the opportunity to direct an interview documentary with the Dehcho First Nation on the Edéhzhíe Protected Area.  

Dzentu also has experience in activism and currently promotes Indigenous language revitalization and is learning moose hide tanning.

Dzentu flew to British Columbia on Nov. 6 and will be working on the project until the spring.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at