Unreserved goes to the imagineNATIVE Festival — virtually

This week on Unreserved, we look at just a few of the more than 150 artists on display at imagineNATIVE this year.
The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival may be all online this year, but there are still more than 150 artists with work on display, including Māori game designer Naphtali Faulkner (left), Métis filmmaker Trevor Cameron (top right) and Cree actor Lorne Cardinal. (Submitted by Naphtali Faulkner, Karma Film, CBC)

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the largest festival in the world to focus on Indigenous media.  

But this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers had to do things differently: they moved it online. 

It was a massive shift for the festival, but one that allowed for people outside of Toronto to experience imagineNATIVE, now in its 21st year.

This week on Unreserved, we look at just a few of the more than 150 artists on display this year.

Along with the shift to online, there are new faces at the helm of imagineNATIVE, and Niki Little is one of them. The new artistic director of imagineNATIVE describes how the festival is different this year, and how they're thinking differently when it comes to accessibility.

Cree actor Lorne Cardinal was the first Indigenous person to graduate from the University of Alberta's acting program in 1993. He has more than 100 film, television and stage credits, and has played memorable roles like Davis on Corner Gas, Daniel Deela on North of 60 and he is the voice of Grandpa Nat on Molly of Denali. He talks about being this year's recipient of imagineNATIVE's August Schellenberg Award of Excellence.

imagineNATIVE is more than just film and television. Māori video game designer Naphtali Faulkner's sleeper hit Umurangi Generation is a light-hearted photography game on the surface — but later becomes a commentary on the world in which we live.

Thirza Cuthand's short film Less Lethal Fetishes is one of her eight works featured at the festival this year. It details her experience at the prestigious but controversial 2019 Whitney Biennial.

When you think of Métis leaders, the first one who likely comes to mind is Louis Riel. Documentarian Trevor Cameron dives a bit deeper into the story of Gabriel Dumont, a different Métis leader and sharpshooter, in his documentary Shadow of Dumont.

This week's playlist: 
Decree. (Zoe Tennant/CBC)

Decree — Ekosi

Black Belt Eagle Scout — I Said I Wouldn't Write This Song