The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival graces Toronto for 16th annual celebration of Indigenous cinema from across the Globe

From October 14th–18th, the world’s largest Indigenous film festival graces Toronto once again, celebrating and showcasing the most innovative works in Indigenous storytelling, arts and culture in contemporary media from around the globe.

The 16th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival features a diverse program of short films and features, art exhibits and installations, audio and digital media works, workshops and panels with industry professionals, as well as the hottest social events in the city. With so much to see and do, here is a little guide to help you navigate your way through the event of the year.

Each year, the festival hosts a spotlight on one Indigenous nation to highlight their artistic achievements in the industry, while providing a platform to share their stories and culture with an international audience. This year the spotlight is on the Sámi nation of Sweden, Norway and Finland, with 4 programs of solid Sami works that are gaining international attention right now.

This year also marks the inaugural Artist Spotlight, acknowledging Indigenous creative leaders whose work has helped pave the way for Indigenous stories to be shared and continues to make lasting contributions to the industry. This year’s Artist Spotlight shines on Cherokee Hollywood producer Heather Rae, highlighting three features from her 20 year career: Trudell, Frozen River and Wind Walkers, as well as a solo exhibition entitled Heather Rae: Urban Indigenous.

ImagineNATIVE hosts a special selection of International Indigenous works, bringing in artists from all corners of the earth. This year’s programme will bring in artists from the US, New Zealand, Australia, Greenland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Greenland, and Portugal to name a few countries whose Indigenous peoples will be represented.

The festival’s 2015 catalogue features the following titled shorts programmes: #Selfie #Stories: Youth Shorts, Stories from Land + Sky, Home Fires: Canadian Shorts, Solar Flares: Experimental Shorts, Kent Monkman: Miss Chief in Motion, 7 Sámi Stories, The Witching Hour: Horror Programme, Welcome to Country, Next of Kin, Unsung Warriors, Matrilineal Matters, Trade Winds: International Shorts, Masculine Moves, and Sámi Spotlight IV: Shorts 1991 – 2014. Additional short films are programmed to compliment most feature film programmes.

Feature films at imagineNATIVE this year include: Mekko (Sterlin Harjo, Seminole Creek), Pathfinder (Nils Gaup, Sámi), Trudell (Heather Rae, Cherokee), Esprit de Corps (Kanakan Balintagos, Palawán-Filipino), The Deadlands (Tainui Stephens, Te Rarawa), Chasing the Light (Blackhorse Lowe, Diné), Angirattut (Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit), Le Dep (Sonia Boileau, Mohawk), Redfern Now – Promise Me (Rachel Perkins, Arrernte/Kalkadoon), The Price of Peace (Kim Webby, Ngati Porou), The Last Saint (Rene Naufahu, Tonga/Samoa), The Redfern Story (Darlene Johnson, Dunghutti), Frozen River (Heather Rae, Cherokee), The Grandfather of All Treaties (Candace Maracle, Mohawk), Wind Walkers (Heather Rae, Cherokee), Historias de la Sierra Madre (Omar Osiris Ponce Nava, Nahuatl), Prison Songs (Kelrick Martin, Ngarluma/Bunuba), and Fire Song (Adam Garnet-Jones, Cree/Métis).

ImagineNATIVE’s Industry Series is the perfect opportunity for both established and up-and-coming filmmakers to exchange knowledge, resources, make connections, collaborate and spark new project ideas. The Industry Series is free and open to the public, providing a plethora of insider scoop to anyone interested in learning how to get a project off the ground, manage a production, fund a project, distribution and so much more.

The following workshops and panels will be featured at the festival this year: How to imagineNATIVE, iN’s Short Documentary Pitch Competition, iN’s Short Drama Pitch Competition, Indigenous Gaming Panel, Canada Media Fund’s Co-Production Case Studies for Success, Drama on a Dime: Micro-Budget Features from the Frontline, Indigenous Airwaves: Covering the Land, The Red Books: Indigenous Media Arts Databases, and The Vital Art of Story Editing.

The Media Arts featured this year include exhibitions such as Voz-À-Voz / Voice-À-Voice, Material Experiments, Heather Rae: Urban Indigenous, Arcticnoise, Kent Monkman; The Ride and Fall of Civilization, and For This Land.

Radio & Audio works come from Lorena Allam, Crystal Favel, Rosanna Deerchild, Art Napolean, Ryan McMahon, Duncan McCue, Rebeka Tabobondung, and Jason Te Kare.

Digital media works and web series to see include Black Is, White Rattlesnake Death, The Aroha Project, Invaders, Mokomoko, Cheating Perspective, Sleep Guardian, Wanisinowin / Lost, We Sing for Healing and Sky Pets.

Special events include the Digital Media Artist Showcase and, imagineNATIVE’s Art Crawl.

Social gatherings highlight every film festival, providing the perfect opportunity for festival guests to schmooze and dance the night away with the industry’s top leaders and stars. ImagineNATIVE’s big social events include the Welcome Gathering at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, the Opening Night Party at the Everleigh, the Awards Show hosted by comedian Candy Palmater at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, and The Beat DJ POW! WOW! featuring music by Akkil, GlitClit & madeskimo at Revival. Aside from the Welcome Gathering, these are ticketed events so be sure to plan ahead!

ImagineNATIVE’s full catalogue can be accessed at, where you can also purchase tickets and see the full schedule. Stay tuned for more festival coverage next week!

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