imagineNATIVE fest celebrates banner year for First Nations film
Shay Eyre, left, and Cara Gee star in the multi-generational drama Empire of Dirt. (imagineNATIVE Film Festival)
"Right now, it feels really good to be Indian."
It's been a banner year for indigenous cinema and that closing line from the film Empire of Dirt, produced by and starring Saulteaux filmmaker Jennifer Podemski, is a sentiment that prevails more than ever as this year's imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival takes place in Toronto.
Directed by Peter Stebbings, Empire of Dirt is screening at imagineNATIVE and is also one of three feature-length films that premiered earlier at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, along with Jeff Barnaby's irreverent and gritty Rhymes for Young Ghouls and documentarian Alanis Obomsawin's Hi-Ho Mistahey!
Actress, director and producer Jennifer Podemski (imagineNATIVE Film Festival)
According to Podemski, having indigenous representation at TIFF is a step in the right direction.
"It helped us prove that native is not a genre. It doesn't belong in a category onto itself," said the actress, director and producer, whose film examines the multi-generational struggles of a family of First Nations women.
"We rarely see more than one film, which you can't help feeling like you're a quota, filling some sort of cultural niche."
What general interest moviegoers may not know is that imagineNATIVE has played a large role in the growing prominence of indigenous film, which is gaining a national, mainstream audience.
"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.
"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."
Danis Goulet's short film Wakening, starring Sarah Podemski, takes figures from aboriginal myths and casts them in a post-apocalyptic tale. (imagineNATIVE Film Festival)
Currently in its 14th year, the five-day festival is the world's largest indigenous film and media arts festival. With a 2013 lineup of 101 films overall — the festival's largest offering to date — imagineNATIVE promises an exciting slate of dramatic films, documentaries, shorts, discussion panels and art exhibits this week.
Cree filmmaker Danis Goulet, whose short film Wakening opened TIFF this year, hopes to educate non-indigenous audiences when her work screens in larger festivals.
"The two characters in [my] film are re-imaginings of classic Cree characters from an oral tradition, Weesageechak and Weetigo, so I sort of felt like they were infiltrating this huge film festival," says Goulet.
"People don't necessarily know who these people are and to me they're just as classic as Shakespeare."
Though she appreciates the support of other events, she is looking forward to her imagineNATIVE screening Thursday night at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto.
"As a filmmaker, I've been to some of the biggest film festivals in the world, like Cannes, Berlin, Sundance," says Goulet.
"imagineNATIVE, for me, is like coming home."
That sense of community is one thing that has always remained true to the festival's original spirit. It was apparent at this year's opening ceremony, held Wednesday at the Native Canadian Centre of Toronto.
Bannock was served and a dance ceremony showcased different styles: from traditional to jingle and grass. At one point, colourful regalia intermingled with contemporary clothing, as attendees joined performers for one final round dance. It was a mix of the traditional and the new, much like imagineNATIVE itself.
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival runs through Sunday
— by Christian Allaire
About the Author
Other The Buzz Entries
About the Authors
- 2013 (139)
- FILM REVIEW: Carrie
- imagineNATIVE fest celebrates banner year for First Nations film
- Beyond: Two Souls, starring Ellen Page, blurs line between games and film
- Machinima art series revisits Oka Crisis, moments in native history
- Harrison Ford open to Blade Runner sequel
- FILM REVIEW: Runner Runner
- Emotional Glee promo released for Cory Monteith tribute
- FILM REVIEW: Gravity
- Boycott Barilla, Dump Stoli: the value of hashtag-driven boycotts
- Bidding farewell to Breaking Bad
- Music marathons: artistic endurance tests for the fleet-fingered
- Justin Bieber on Between Two Ferns
- Emmys 2013: the winners and losers
- FILM REVIEW: Enough Said
- Cory Monteith's Emmy tribute: is it deserved?
- TIFF 2013 favourites from Eli Glasner
- Miley Cyrus's Wrecking Ball: what do you make of it?
- Ylvis asks, 'What does the fox say?' in surprise viral video hit
- James Spader to play Ultron in Avengers sequel
- Céline Dion teases new single online
- TIFF films with the biggest buzz
- Kristin Chenoweth fan steals the show in impromptu duet
- Video game heroines reinterpreted by fashion illustrator
- Papers, Please is a nerve-racking game about a desk job
- Darren Young becomes WWE's first openly gay wrestler
- Canadians rock Oslo's Øya Fest
- FILM REVIEW: Blue Jasmine
- First look: David O. Russell's American Hustle trailer
- Al Pacino, as himself, for One Night Only
- FILM REVIEW: The Wolverine
- FILM REVIEW: Fruitvale Station
- ROM Game Jam to breathe new digital life into ancient cultures
- FILM REVIEW: Byzantium
- FILM REVIEW: The Hunt
- FILM REVIEW: Grown Ups 2
- FILM REVIEW: Pacific Rim
- FILM REVIEW: 20 Feet From Stardom
- FILM REVIEW: I'm So Excited
- FILM REVIEW: The Heat
- FILM REVIEW: World War Z
- An essential summertime song list
- FILM REVIEW: Frances Ha
- Beyond Tony Soprano: Remembering James Gandolfini
- Summer reading: top book choices from CBC Arts
- Jedward on the MMVA red carpet
- Film, TV tourism spikes with Game of Thrones, The Hobbit
- NXNE: a primer to the best of the Canadian music festival
- FILM REVIEW: Man of Steel
- FILM REVIEW: After Earth
- FILM REVIEW: Now You See Me
- Strombo chats up Craig Ferguson
- Khaled Hosseini's latest inspires digital Echo experience
- FILM REVIEWS: Fast and Furious 6, Epic and Picture Day
- FILM REVIEW: The Hangover Part 3
- Blake Shelton, Toby Keith boost benefits for Oklahoma
- Pushing Chinese stars beyond gimmicky roles
- Horror tale Haunting Melissa targets app audiences
- FILM REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness
- The return of Harmony Korine
- Michael Bublé gives surprise gig in NY subway
- Hot Docs: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, High Five: An Adoption Saga
- Snoop Lion's Reincarnated wins over a skeptic
- At Coachella with Divine Fits' Dan Boeckner
- Can hip hop be a sustainable career for Canadian rappers?
- FILM REVIEW: Oblivion
- FILM REVIEW: My Awkward Sexual Adventure
- Buzz-worthy trailer for Man of Steel
- Hunger Games fans get a taste of Catching Fire
- FILM REVIEW: Emperor
- FILM REVIEW: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
- Canadian bands provide the warmth as CMW ends
- Jim Carrey skewers gun lobby with Cold Dead Hand
- Canadian Music Week: The unpretentious, the unenchanting and the unforgettable
- FILM REVIEW: The Croods
- Jay Leno's job on the line as late night TV wars resume
- Sam Roberts, Sarah Slean in NY Sandy fundraiser
- Justin Timberlake returns too late, the thrill is gone
- Selena Gomez's misstep on the Bieber file
- Canada's Stella Sisters sing a birthday tribute to the Man in Black
- Oscar swag the ultimate consolation prize
- Oscar predictions: the shoo-ins and the should-have-beens
- Authors bare all for PEN Canada
- Anoushka Shankar and the One Billion Rising campaign
- Beyoncé's Life Is But a Dream a curated peek behind the curtain
- Drake gets wild in the street over Grammy win
- 25 billion songs downloaded on iTunes, and counting
- CBC Music's Searchlight seeks best new artist
- 6 bone-crushing football films
- FILM REVIEW: Warm Bodies
- Justin Timberlake's musical comeback
- Argo moves to the fore in Oscar best picture race
- FILM REVIEW: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
- FILM REVIEW: Knife Fight
- FILM REVIEW: Parker
- Kroll Show parodies Degrassi with "Wheels, Ontario"
- FILM REVIEW: The Last Stand
- FILM REVIEW: Gangster Squad
- October (8)