Film Festival Brings Together Indigenous Artists

Hundreds of indigenous and non-indigenous film enthusiasts from around the globe met from October 20 to 24 for the fifth-annual imagineNative Film Festival. The festival is one of the few solely indigenous-run and programmed festivals in the arts community.

With some of the most innovative aboriginal creators of film, video, radio, and new media in attendance, more than 90 films were screened, including shorts, documentaries, narrative feature films, children’s animation, and experimental films. Material covered a wide range of topics relevant to indigenous communities, from Native legends, spiritual healing, identity, and respect for elders, to forced displacement, drug and alcohol addiction, depression, police brutality, and land rights.

“The ‘90s were the age of desktop publishing, but today we live in the age of desktop broadcasting,” exclaimed Chris Spence of Aboriginal Voices Radio in Canada. Many festival participants stressed that media literacy is one of the most important skills younger generations have to learn.

Festival highlights included the showing of the first indigenous-made feature-length film from the islands of Fiji, Pear ta Ma ‘on Maf/The Land Has Eyes by Rotuan director Vilsoni Hereniko. The first Palaw’an feature-length film from the indigenous people of South Palawan, Phillipines, Basal Banar, directed by Kanadan Balintagos, was also shown. The Russian Federation submitted a feature about forcibly displaced Nomadic Chukchi hunters, titled Arctic Troy, which was directed by Aleksei Vakhrushev. Full film descriptions can be viewed at

Free workshops and panels on fundraising, marketing, and distribution of films gave filmmakers and festival participants further artistic and professional development skills.

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