Canadian films highlighting native stories will screen at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, in a special program showcasing movies about indigenous peoples worldwide.

The annual film fest gets underway Thursday and continues through Feb. 17.

Zacharias Kunuk's international hit Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner — winner of the 2001 Cannes Camera d'Or prize and the first-ever feature film made in the Inuktitut language — will open the Berlinale's program NATIVe - A Journey into Indigenous Cinema.

Alanis Obomsawin's 1986 doc Richard Cardinal: Cry from the Diary of a Métis Child will also screen in the special line-up of features, documentaries and short films. Meanwhile, Obomsawin, a veteran documentary filmmaker who focuses on native stories, will also travel to Berlin to join filmmakers Catriona McKenzie of Australia and Chelsea Winstanley of New Zealand on the panel Talent to Watch: Sacred Female Voices.

"This is a rare opportunity to hear from and engage in discussion with the First Ladies of indigenous cinema from Canada and around the world," Jason Ryle, head of Toronto's imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, said in a statement.

"It promises to be an insightful and entertaining discussion about how indigenous women are contributing to a new global cinematic wave."

Newer films, like Danis Goulet's northern Saskatchewan-set teen pregnancy drama Barefoot, will also unspool in Berlin.

"A total of 11 Canadian films with aboriginal content will be presented in Berlin as part of the festival's official selection and the NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema special presentation as well as Telefilm's Perspective Canada's market screenings," said Telefilm executive director Carolle Brabant.

New films from Steven Soderbergh (Side Effects), Gus Van Sant (Promised Land) and Canadian Denis Côté (Vic+Flo ont vu un ours) are among the films that will vie for the Berlinale's top prize — the Golden Bear — at this year's festival.

Chinese director Wong Kar-Wai will chair the competition jury and his latest film, the kung fu epic Grandmasters, will open the festival, though it is screening out of competition.