2022 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival​

#imagineNATIVE

October 18-23, 2022 – Toronto | October 24-30, 2022 – Online

The 23rd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will take place October 18-30, 2022. The Festival celebrates Indigenous storytelling in film + video, audio, and digital + interactive art through screenings, exhibitions, special events, and more. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media to learn more. 

The 23rd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will take place in Toronto from October 18-23, 2022, before moving to our online streaming and iNdigital Space platforms from October 24-30, 2022.

Logo for Canada Media Fund

Festival Greetings

Like the setting sun and the rising moon, the Festival returns each year to gift us the opportunity to constellate with old and new friends, to watch the best Indigenous screen content in the world, and to be empowered by Indigenous storytelling.

Inspired by teachings gifted to the imagineNATIVE staff by Grandmother Pauline Shirt, which laid the foundation for both our visual aesthetic and curatorial direction, this year’s Festival celebrates our relationship with the cosmos. It explores how we relate to the celestial world, and how our relationship to the sky is intertwined with our kinships here on earth. It invites us to consider the relational responsibilities we have to respect and care for all life on this “pale blue dot,” especially our Elders, little ones (children and youth), and our other-than-human kin (plants and animals).

The stars aligned beautifully, as many of the films in the Official Selection touch upon the Festival themes, visualizing Indigenous cosmologies, futurisms, the cycle of life, love, language revitalization, traditional ecological knowledge, medicine teachings, traditional making practices, and everything in-between.

Consisting of 19 feature films and over 100 short films curated into 13 programs, there is something for everyone!

imagineNATIVE occupies a special place in my heart, so to be gifted the opportunity to curate the Festival is a true honour and blessing. Marsii | Meegwetch to the Programming Committee and imagineNATIVE staff for their thoughtful dedication to realizing this year’s Festival.

We hope that it inspires you—surrounded by your loved ones—to gaze up at the night sky and visit with our oldest ancestors, the stars.

Rhéanne Chartrand
Festival Curatorial Advisor

Official Selection

Programming Committees are comprised of filmmakers, artists, and curators. They work to provide additional perspectives on individual titles, overarching themes, and the programming structure. imagineNATIVE’s Festival Curatorial Advisor, Rhéanne Chartrand, is joined by Cole Forrest, Leo Koziol, and Paul Seesequasis to oversee the selection of the films, with Pōhaikealoha Panoke joining us for the selection of Digital + Interactive and Audio works.

Awards

The imagineNATIVE Awards Presentation is a celebration of excellence in Indigenous film and media arts. 

We would like to thank Telefilm Canada, the Presenting Partner of the Awards, for all of their support.

August Schellenberg Award of Excellence

The August Schellenberg Award of Excellence was launched in partnership with Joan Karasevich Schellenberg to honour her late husband, the legendary actor August (Augie) Schellenberg, and the spirit of his work. This award is presented to gifted Indigenous actors from across Turtle Island based on the longevity and impact of their careers, as well as their professionalism and involvement in mentorship and community work.

This award is supported by ACTRA Toronto and individual donations.

Submissions

Submissions are now closed for the 2022 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, which will run from October 18-30, 2022. Submissions will reopen in spring 2023. For more information, please contact submissions@imagineNATIVE.org.

Light will win.

Grandmother Pauline

Turn your face to the Sun, and let the Shadows fall behind you.

A Māori Quote, shared from Leo Koziol

Programming Committee

Curatorial Visioning for Festival 2022

The upcoming 23rd annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival will take place in-person at the TIFF Bell Lightbox from October 18th-23rd, and move to our online streaming and iNdigital platforms from October 23rd – 30th, 2022.

The imagineNATIVE Programming Team has already engaged in initial curatorial discussions around this year’s Festival aesthetic/theme: the auroras. Building out from the importance of this “cinematic atmospheric phenomenon” to Indigenous cultures in both the Northern (aurora borealis) and the Southern (aurora australis) Hemispheres, we want to explore how we relate to the celestial world, and how our relationship to the sky is intertwined with our kinships here on earth. Of particular focus is the precious relationship between our Elders and little ones (children and youth).

We invite you, the Programming Committee, to reflect on your relationship to Sky World, to consider Indigenous cosmologies, and to think about the knowledge(s) you’ve inherited—whether that knowledge was passed down to you (through creation stories and teachings you’ve received), or learned through study—about our place in the universe.

Think: How do we create a festival curatorial vision that tells a story about the interconnectedness of the auroras, the birth/death/rebirth of star beings, the kinships we have to/with each other and our home (Earth), and the roles and responsibilities we have to care for all life on this “pale blue dot.”

As a Committee, we’ll further develop the overarching themes and film programs once we’re in our Lock Days, but we offer these considerations as you begin to review films.

Our Brightest Stars

Committee Favourites

Title Director Type Mins Country Nation Language Emerging Program
Diiyeghan naii Taii Tr’eedaa (We Will Walk the Trail of our Ancestors) Princess Daazhraii Johnson Doc Short 6 US Neet’saii Gwich’in English YES Opening Night Double Bill
Arctic Song Germaine Arnattaujuq, Louise Flaherty, Neil Christopher Drama Short 6 CAD Inuit English, Inuktitut Aurora Borealis
The Voyager’s Legacy Bailey Poching Drama Short 10 NZ Ngāti Whatua English YES Aurora Austalis
Firecracker Bullets Chad Charlie Doc Short 14 US Ahousaht First Nation English Interstellar
A Morning with Aroha Nicholas Riini Drama Short 11 NZ Maori English YES Little Stars
Kikino Kids Barry Bilinsky Drama Short 14 CAD Kikino Metis Settlement English YES Little Stars
Dead Bird Hearts Thomas Ryan RedCorn Drama Short 19 US Osage English YES Twin Stars
Heartbeat of a Nation Eric Janvier Doc Short 20 CAD Chipewyan Prairie Dene First Nation English Guiding Stars
The Machine Isaac Bell Drama Short 26 NZ Ngapuhi English Interstellar
Spirit Emulsion Siku Allooloo Doc Short 8 CAD Inuk/Haitian/TaÍno English Big Stars
Title Type Program
Diiyeghan naii Taii Tr’eedaa (We Will Walk the Trail of our Ancestors) Doc Short Opening Night Double Bill
Arctic Song Drama Short Aurora Borealis
The Voyager’s Legacy Drama Short Aurora Austalis
Firecracker Bullets Doc Short Interstellar
A Morning with Aroha Drama Short Little Stars
Kikino Kids Drama Short Little Stars
Dead Bird Hearts Drama Short Twin Stars
Heartbeat of a Nation Doc Short Guiding Stars
The Machine Drama Short Interstellar
Spirit Emulsion Doc Short Big Stars

Festival Facts

19

feature films  (10 Dramas + 8 docs + 1 experimental)

101

shorts (45 dramas + 37 docs + 19 experimental)

13

THEMATIC PROGRAMS

6

iN ORIGINALS

5

MUSIC VIDEOS

9

DIGITAL + INTERACTIVE WORKS (2 AUGMENTED REALITY + 4 VIRTUAL REALITY + 2 VIDEO GAMES + 1 INTERACTIVE WEBSITE)

9

audio works (8 podcasts + 1 experimental audio)

6

exhibitions (1 online + 5 in person + 14 artists + 5 curators)

55

Indigenous languages

11

100% Indigenous language films

63

emerging filmmakers

17

animated films

9

horror films

63

films made in 2022

1

artist spotlight (Shelley Niro)

Festival Facts

19

feature films  (10 Dramas + 8 docs + 1 experimental)

101

shorts (45 dramas + 37 docs + 19 experimental)

13

THEMATIC PROGRAMS

6

iN ORIGINALS

5

MUSIC VIDEOS

9

DIGITAL + INTERACTIVE WORKS
(2 A.R. + 4 V.R. + 2 VIDEO GAMES + 1 INTERACTIVE WEBSITE)

9

audio works (8 podcasts + 1 experimental audio)

6

exhibitions (1 online + 5 in person + 14 artists + 5 curators)

55

Indigenous languages

11

100% Indigenous language films

63

emerging filmmakers

17

animated films

9

horror films

63

films made in 2022

1

artist spotlight (Shelley Niro)

Must Watch Feature Films

Stellar

Director/Writer/Producer: Darlene Naponse (Anishinaabe)

Producer: Paula Devonshire (Mohawk)

Canada | 2022 | 87 min

English/Ojibway | Dramatic Feature

Triggering Historical Trauma, Excessive Flashing/Strobing Lights

 

As a meteorite catastrophically changes the planet outside, two lovers find each other in a small bar in Northern Ontario, Canada. Across their bodies and spirits, the star-crossed couple transcends the traumas of one world and finds a path to a new one. Stellar observes human notions of connections between oneself, other people, and Mother Earth herself.

Darlene Naponse is an Anishinaabe writer, director and video artist from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek in Northern Ontario. Her previous films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the Toronto International Film Festival, and the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Her previous feature Falls Around Her opened imagineNATIVE in 2018 where it won the Audience Choice Award. Stellar is her fourth feature film. Darlene’s work is placed within Indigenous community and the Natural World.

Bring Her Home

Director: ​​Leya Hale (Dakota/Diné)

Producer: Sergio Mata’u Rapu (Sergio Mata’u Rapu)

United States | 2021 | 56 min

English/Dakota | Documentary Feature

Toronto Premiere | MMIW2S, Triggering historical trauma, Adult Themes

 

Bring Her Home follows three Indigenous women – an artist, an activist, and a politician – as they fight to vindicate and honour their missing and murdered relatives who have fallen victims to a growing epidemic across Indian country. Despite the lasting effects of historical trauma, each woman must search for healing while navigating the racist systems that brought about this very crisis.

​​Leya Hale Leya Hale comes from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Diné Nations. She is a producer for Twin Cities PBS and is best known for her first feature documentary, The People’s Protectors, a Vision Maker Media grant production, and winner of the 2019 Upper Midwest Emmy Award for Best Cultural Documentary.

ROSIE

Director/Writer/Producer: Gail Maurice (Cree/Métis)

Canada | 2022 | 100 min

English/French/Cree | Dramatic Feature

Toronto Premiere | Adult Themes, Use of Illegal Substances, Triggering Historical Trauma, Coarse Language

 

with her reluctant, street-smart Aunty Fred. Fred, introduces Rosie to her two best friends Flo and Mo, glamorous, gender-bending street workers. Rosie transforms the lives of these colourful characters and finds love, acceptance, and a true HOME with her newly chosen family of glittering outsiders.

Gail Maurice is a fluent Cree/Michif-speaking actor and an award-winning independent filmmaker and Arts Laureate. Her films have screened at Sundance, Traverse City Film Festival, the Smithsonian Institution, and imagineNATIVE, and have also aired on CBC, APTN and Air Canada’s Enroute. ROSIE is her feature debut and was supported by the imagineNATIVE institute’s inaugural screenwriting lab.

Must Watch Program

Twinkle Twinkle

Award Winning Films

Our 2022 award winners can be found on our Awards page.

Reading + Resources

Indigenous star stories:

The First Astronomers: How Indigenous Elders Read the Stars: https://www.thefirstastronomers.com/ – Read this book! Solid 10/10

Native Skywatchers: Indigenous Astronomy Revitalization: https://www.nativeskywatchers.com/ – Led by renowned Lakota astronomer and artist, Annette S. Lee

“Gizhebaa Giizhi” Revolving Sky: https://revolvingsky.com/ – Written by Michael Wassegijig Price

The ever-deadly, Wilfred Buck:
https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/indigenous-astronomy-1.5077070

https://www.sciencefriday.com/articles/indigenous-peoples-astronomy/

Aditional articles:
https://www.vice.com/en/article/88gpk3/all-four-building-blocks-of-dna-have-been-found-in-meteorites

https://www.space.com/black-hole-star-death-gas-cloud-clues