The ImagineNative Indigenous Film and Media Arts Festival goes live this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still much to be hoped for starting on Tuesday, the festival’s artistic director said.
“The movie is really great in the sense that it’s quite adaptable, so we have a really good on-demand platform for everyone,” said Niki Little.
The works will be released every day of the six days of the festival and will be accessible for 48 hours. The festival will continue to feature micro-meetings, speaker panels and an online hub for the INdigital space showcasing 17 Indigenous-made digital and interactive multimedia works.
“ImagineNative is usually where people come together to connect to talk about their work and to really celebrate each other,” Little said.
She said the gathering part was missing due to the upload, so in order to honor the community and all who are coming together for the festival to take place this year, over $ 20,000 in prizes will be awarded.
There is also over $ 50,000 in cash prizes for artists.
“It’s pretty amazing how people have come together and come together for this gift idea and honoring our community and honoring the artists because that is really what it is about” Little said.
ImagineNative started out by creating a space for Indigenous content creators and has grown into a nearly weeklong festival. Last year it became an Oscar qualifying festival in the live action short format category.
“At the end of the day, our goal is to be artist-centered and Indigenous-led and to ensure that Indigenous stories are told by Indigenous people, because that’s paramount,” Little said.
There will be four short film programs, each named after one of the medicine wheel colors.
The yellow shorts program will open the festival online, featuring works by artists from seven different nations around the world including: Theola Ross, Jack Steele, Ngariki Ngatae, Banchi Hanuse, Michelle Derosier, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Alisi Telengut.
The red, black and yellow programs will all have a question-and-answer component that will take place on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
Special events include an hour of visual art, performances and talks by curators from Toronto galleries in the form of a virtual art crawl led by Little.
Indigenous Developers’ Night on Friday will feature international indigenous video game talent. On Saturday, ImagineNative’s annual concert will be broadcast online in partnership with the Tkaronto Music Festival.
On Sunday, actor, producer and director Lorne Cardinal will receive the August Schellenberg Award of Excellence.
Five movie choices
Shadow of Dumont
Directed by Métis writer and director Trevor Cameron, this documentary explores Cameron’s road trip across the country to the homelands of Gabriel Dumont. Dumont played a key role as a leader in the Métis uprising of 1885.
In this adaptation of Eden Robinson’s novel of the same name, Lisa Hill is brought back to her Haisla village of Kitamaat at the behest of her deceased cousin. Once she returns, she sees a vision of her younger brother Jimmy drowning. Jimmy goes to sea to rid the village of a predator but then disappears. This sets Lisa on a journey to save her brother’s soul. This dramatic feature film is directed by Cree / Métis writer, director and producer Loretta Todd.
The Legend of Baron To’a
This film marks the debut of Maori / Pasifika actor, writer and producer Kiel McNaighton as a feature film director. The legend of Baron To’a tells the story of Fritz, a Tongan entrepreneur, who, after several years, returns to his old neighborhood to sell his family’s house, still grappling with the legacy of his superstar father of the struggle, Baron To’a.
Love and Fury
Seminole and Muscogee Creek filmmaker Sterlin Harjo followed an array of Indigenous artists over the year to explore the question “who classifies Native American art and what does it mean?” The documentary profiles musician and composer Laura Ortman, who performed at the Whitney Biennial 2019; artist and composer Raven Chacon; the famous poet, musician and author Joy Harjo; singer and guitarist Micah P. Hinson; among others.
Tell Me a Story: A Multigenerational Film Program
This program asks families to share both old and new stories. Directors include Phyllis Grant, Darryl Nepinak, Amber Twoyoungmen, Kes Lefthand, Winona Bearshield, Christiana Latham, Tristan Craig, Dustinn Craig, Darlene Naponse and Amanda Strong.