About the film
Janelle Niles is a Black, Mi’kmaw, two-spirited woman from Sipekne’katik First Nation in Nova Scotia and a stand-up comedian. Despite a tumultuous upbringing, Janelle embraces her biracial experience and queer identity, using stand-up to usher in a new era of inclusive, Canadian comedy.
Kelly Zemnickis, Cass Gardiner
John Choi, Lisa Rideout
Kelly Zemnickis, Cass Gardiner
Nico Stagias, Jacob Conley
Charles Paquin, Laszlo Szijarto
About the Directors
Cass Gardiner is an Anishinaabe Algonquin filmmaker, programmer, and writer from Kebaowek First Nation. She produced Jewels Hunt, a short documentary on subsistence hunting in Unalakleet, Alaska, which was supported by ITVS and TFI, and broadcast on PBS Independent Lens in 2020. Her first short, The Edible Indian, was nominated for Best Documentary Short at the American Indian Film Festival. Her writing on Indigenous food, film and culture has been published in Inuit Art Quarterly, Cherry Bombe Magazine, and Compound Butter Magazine. Cass has held a variety of positions within documentary film institutions, namely the National Film Board of Canada and the Tribeca Film Institute, and she has been a juror for the International Documentary Association (IDA). She is an independent contractor for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. She holds a BA from NYU Gallatin and an MFA from Toronto Metropolitan University.
Kelly Zemnickis is a filmmaker, stand-up comedian, playwright and podcaster. She co-produced the award-winning feature documentary No Responders Left Behind (Paradox Pictures/Blue Ant Media/Discovery +), which received a Canadian Screen Award Nomination for the Donald Brittain Award: Best Social/Political Documentary Program in 2022. As a comedian, Kelly has shared the stage with such comedy greats as Kevin Farley and Gary Gulman and been featured at festivals such as the Burbank Comedy Festival (Best of the Fest selection - 2020). Kelly’s theatrical debut How Does a Drug Deal Become a Decent 3rd Date? toured all over North America and even made it to Off-Off Broadway in 2009 with the Frigid NY Festival. Her food-themed podcast Order Up! is now available on all streaming services and her comedy album debut Sugar n’ Spice & Smirnoff Ice will be released in 2023 on Howl & Roar Records.
Cass Gardiner: As an Anishinaabe Algonquin director, it is an honour to share the story of comedian Janelle Niles. More than just a celebration of comedic talent, Janelle Niles: Inconvenient is an opportunity to showcase Janelle’s unique perspectives and experiences as a black/Mi’kmaw two-spirited person in Canada through the art of humour. Janelle’s use of satire, irony and self-deprecating humour addresses serious issues in Canada, such as historical trauma, colonialism, and racism, while also celebrating the resilience and strength of Indigenous people. Ultimately, my goal is to create a film that both entertains and educates audiences, while also providing a platform for Native voices and perspectives and inspiring future generations of Indigenous artists to share their stories and experiences with the world.
Kelly Zemnickis: I first learned about Janelle Niles reading an article about her in Reader's Digest magazine ("Funny Girl" by Haley Lewis-RD, October 2020) and was immediately struck with the idea that she was the perfect subject for a documentary. As a comedian, and a female one, there was something about Janelle's drive and confidence that I was keen to share with others; because it's SUCH a male dominated art form, I felt it was really important to highlight someone who was making her own stage and sharing her voice. Janelle is proof it can be done, by just going out there and doing the thing! And as a non-indigenous person, I felt this was a great way for me to learn more and do something other than just sharing a post on social media. We don’t listen to each other enough and a film about Janelle felt like the best way to watch and learn. Those of us who do stand-up do it because we must—it's a calling! It can also be soul-crushing as it tests your patience to a degree you didn’t know existed, but you get back up there and you tell your truths, and you find the funny in the pain and eventually, you see the light at the end of the tunnel. You see the possibilities. Janelle is doing all of that and more, and I’m really honoured that she let us in and allowed us to share her story.