ImagineNATIVE kicks off on October 14 in Toronto, celebrating its 10th anniversary of telling Aboriginal stories and showing the works of Aboriginal artists. Michelle Latimer, imagineNATIVE’s programming manager, details what to expect for this year’s fest and how exactly its celebrating this anniversary.
The four day fest focuses on film, new media and arts, and includes works from, or about, Indigenous people from all over the globe. Alongside screenings, artwork and new media mashups is the industry series, which tackles funding, meeting buyers, mentorships and a conversation about Indigenous filmmaking.
The Toronto-based festival of film, media and arts will be opening with Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond’s Reel Injun, which takes a look at Hollywood’s depiction of Native Americans from a Native American standpoint. ‘It’s the only film I’ve seen that’s not just topical, it’s really celebrating where we’ve come [from],’ says Latimer.
Latimer says that this year they received close to 400 submissions and the programming team selected about a third of the films to screen. ‘I think that short-form and long-form docs are probably the things we see most of. I have a theory that documentaries are a more accessible genre for people who come from storytelling backgrounds,’ she says.
Of the doc offerings, the world premiere of Six Miles Deep is highly recommended from Latimer. ‘It’s the directorial debut of Sara Roque, in coproduction with the National Film Board of Canada. It’s dealing with the role of clan mothers and the traditional matriarchal role in Mohawk communities and its looking specifically at the Caledonia land claim dispute [in Southern Ontario].’
The dispute is seen through the unique viewpoint of the clan mothers. ‘The film echoes feminist movies seen in films from the NFB in the late ’60s and early ’70s and I haven’t seen a voice of a filmmaker quite like this,’ says Latimer. ‘This is really looking at the generations of women from the grandmothers right down to the young daughters who have the warrior spirit.’
Director Alan Black’s Jackpot,which Latimer produced, will screen at the festival and is about the many different communities uniting in a Toronto bingo hall. Latimer says the film is not necessarily a Native story, but is more of a contemporary story. This is a theme found throughout the festival, where Native filmmakers are shifting away from telling traditional Aboriginal stories in favor of contemporary stories being told by Aboriginal people.
‘There are a lot of stories from First Nations filmmakers and they’re not necessarily echoing First Nations issues and I think that’s really exciting,’ says Latimer. ‘We’re saying ‘yes I’m First Nations and I will tell something from my point of view, but my point of view encompasses so many other things. It doesn’t have to just be about grandmother moon or a smudge ceremony, and no disrespect, but it can also be about someone in a city going to university, as in [Alanis Obomsawin's latest doc] Professor Norman Cornett.’
ImagineNATIVE’s documentary pitch event, Rock Your Doc, features a panel which includes Naomi Boxer from TVOntario, Charlotte Engel from CTV, Sarah Jane Flynn from Canwest Broadcasting and Andrew Johnson from CBC Newsworld. The winner receives a one-month use of CBC Newsworld’s Sony HDV camera and a $2,500 gift certificate from equipment provider William F. White International.
The festival also features a spotlight on Nepal, which includes Kshitiz Adhiraj’s doc Being Me and Prina Raj Joshi’s Gway Maru (A Man Without Moustache), as well as a retrospective in celebration of the 10th anniversary of imagineNATIVE. The festival runs from October 14 to 18.