imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Wrap Up

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The 14th annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the largest presenter of Indigenous film and media arts and features the latest works by Indigenous peoples in film, video, radio and new media. This past year there were over 100 films presented, which include documentaries, features, and short films.


Each year, from all across the globe, the festival attracts Indigenous filmmakers, media artists, actors, programmers, distributors, and, of course, moviegoers.


“We can’t deny that imagineNATIVE has had an impact on the festival circuit. People are looking for these works,” says Jason Ryle, the festival’s executive director to CBC“Certainly Indigenous filmmakers and artists have been creating work always, but festivals like imagineNATIVE have really provided a platform that didn’t exist for a diversity of stories to be told.”


Opening Night - Aaraon Pederson and Iven Sven. Photo by Dominic Chan
Opening Night – Aaraon Pederson and Iven Sven – Photo: Dominic Chan
Opening Night - Jayli Wolf and Michelle Latimer. Photo by Dominic Chan
Opening Night – Jayli Wolf and Michelle Latimer – Photo: Dominic Chan

The sold-out opening night screening of Mystery Road (Australia) by Director Iven Sen brought out both the director and the main star Aaron Pederson. Also in attendance were Emerging Artist/Actor Jayli Wolf and Director/Actor Michelle Latimer amongst many other Native celebrities such as Playwright Drew Hayden Taylor, Actor Brandon Oakes, and Songstress IsKwé.


Empire of Dirt
Empire of Dirt

One of the main features that brought everyone out on Saturday night was the feature, Empire of Dirt, which received a lot of attention during it’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The film is co-produced by Jennifer Podemski (who also acts in the film) and featuring Cara Gee (2013 Rising Star), the movie centers around a young Native woman, former addict and model, struggling to make ends meet and facing a difficult decision. The film was sold out during imagineNATIVE, and will be released, for all to see, across Canada on November 22, 2013.


Awards - Alanis Obomsawin. Photo by Dominic Chan
Kaniehtiio Horn – Photo: Dominic Chan
Awards - Kaniehtiio Horn. Photo by Dominic Chan
Alanis Obomsawin – Photo: Dominic Chan

This year’s award show was hosted by Native Comic Ryan MacMahon, who’s made a name for himself by putting himself on the forefront of online activism. There were over fourteen awards given out at the sold-out awards show. The drama pitch award was given to Kaniehtiio Horn and Waneek Horn-Miller, who had pitched Rats, which is all about their mother and famous activist, Kah-Tineta Horn. Winner of the Best Canadian Short Drama was awarded to Zoe Leigh Hopkins for Mohawk Runners, which was written by Novelist Richard Van Camp.


The Beat - A Tribe Called Red. Photo by Dominic Chan.
The Beat – A Tribe Called Red – Photo: Dominic Chan

The festival ended with everyone’s favourite night, The Beat, which had headliners A Tribe Called Red as imagineNATIVE brought on presenting sponsor Slaight Music, sponsor Red Bull Canada, and co-presenter The Music Gallery. The show was sold out for at least a week in advance so those who hadn’t planned well in advance were left out in the cold for the hottest night in imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival 2013.

The festival was a smashing, sold-out success, and the in 2014 the festival is sure to bring in great movies, stars, and all of the energy that surrounds imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival … just be sure to get in line early.