imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is an international festival in Toronto that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media.

Our Impact Why We Exist

The festival's programming, panels and workshops, and social and cultural events attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers, buyers, and industry professionals. The works accepted reflect the diversity of the world's Indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media. imagineNATIVE is commited to dispelling stereotypes and myths surrounding Aboriginal people by providing a platform for their unique perspectives and stories.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

Since its inception in 1998, imagineNATIVE (known also as the Centre for Aboriginal Media, imagineNATIVE's legal entity) continues to evolve to reflect the needs of its constituencies. Founded by Cynthia Lickers-Sage with the help of Vtape and other community partners, imagineNATIVE is now regarded as one of the most important Indigenous film and media arts festivals in the world.The five-day imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival features screenings, panels, workshops, and installations with over 15,500 guests attending from across the globe. In January of 2011, imagineNATIVE introduced the indigiFLIX Community Screening Series to offer free screenings across the city aimed at an underserved population and bridging the economic and cultural gap that Aboriginal Torontonians experience. imagineNATIVE furthers its commitment to Indigenous artists and artistic and community development by embarking on the annual Film + Video Tour, now celebrating its 10th year, which brings programs and workshops to remote communities and reserves across Ontario.

Accolades and Accomplishments

imagineNATIVE has grown and evolved in many ways over the past decade:

  • Audience attendance grown from 12,000 to 15,500 since 2011
  • Established indigiFLIX Community Screening Series
  • Established imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour, screening Indigenous films to Aboriginal communities and post secondary institutes and offering youth video-making workshops
  • Curated and supported a number of groundbreaking exhibitions and commissioned film programs including, Shapeshifters, Time Travellers & Storytellers (ICC Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum's first exhibition), and The Embargo Collective (Travelling to international festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival)
  • We offer annual mentorships and artist residencies on a national scale, and continue to build commissioning programs that foster the creation of new film, video, radio and new media works by Indigenous artists
  • Shortlisted for the 2009 Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts
  • Awarded the 2006 Best Practices Award from the Canadian Race Relations Foundation and a Vital Ideas Grant from the Toronto Community Foundation

Our Programs How We Do It

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is an international festival in Toronto that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio, and new media.

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (October)

imagineNATIVE focuses on new and innovative film, video, radio, and new media works. Programming includes annual retrospectives, curated programmes, and presentations of significant groundbreaking and legacy works.

imagineNATIVE plays an important role in the dissemination and exportation of Indigenous works by promoting and exhibiting artists' films, videos, radio, and new media artworks. imagineNATIVE connects these artsists and their works to Canadian and international festivals, markets, distributors, and broadcasters and by facilitating sales and acquisitions.

imagineNATIVE provides Indigenous filmmakers, media artists and curators with professional development opportunities in the form of workshops, panels, mentorships and other activities geared to enhancing creative and professional skills.

Funding and Program Partners

Funders and Sponsors of the 2011 Festival:

Bell Media, Astral Radio, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Deluxe, Slaight Music, Casino Rama, Canadian Media Fund, Global Toronto, RBC, CBC, Isuma Television, TD Financial, Thunderbird Centre, TVO, National Film Board, Edward Day Gallery, A Space Gallery, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Training & Employment, Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage Fund, Telefilm Canada and many other community, media and hostpitality partners.

Program Impact

imagineNATIVE aims to fill a void in the artistic and cultural landscapes of Toronto and beyond. Through our various and ongoing programs we give voice to Indigenous filmmakers and media artists which directly impacts the larger conversation surrounding Aboriginal issues in the city and nationwide. Audience numbers have grown steadily over the years, reaching roughly 12,000 in 2011, a testament to its impact and importance at a time when many cultural and artisitic programs are seeing lower attendance numbers due to ecenomic constraints.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

'70% of Aboriginal residents in Toronto report a growth in Aboriginal cultural vitality: In a recent survey, 39% of Aboriginal residents in Toronto responded that one of the things they like best about their city is the cultural and artistic activities available to them.' 

Participant Vignette

Lena Recollet - "imagineNATIVE had invited us, Red Slam Collective, to open for Inez Jasper and Martha Redbone for 'The Beat' at Lee's Palace and received mentorship with Martha Redbone. I was amazed and remembered when I heard Martha sing at the Harbourfront Centre some time before. Her voice is amazing and I was excited that Red Slam Collective was receiving mentorship from her. "The night of the 'The Beat' finally arrive and Martha Redbone invited us (Red Slam Collective) to share the stage with her for one of her songs 'The Vineyard.' I was nervous, but she had helped me out by asking me to do some call and response vocals with her onstage. l felt comfortable and connected to my core and so overexcited that I was no longer thinking about what I was doing. I was in the moment. I felt I had come full circle since I first moved to Toronto.

I felt confident not only as a poet but as a singer too. Now I have been in the recording studio at Notlam Productions, recording for my EP release on June 21st, which is National Aboriginal Day. I have performed as a solo artist since February 2011 at Black Lily Arts Celebration and opened for Kinnie Starr for the spring Up Spring Out concert. My first solo performance outside of Toronto was for the Anishnaabemowin Immersion Camp Benefit Concert.

imagineNATIVE has helped shaped my confidence as an artist and was a huge part of establishing where I am at today.

indigiFLIX Community Screening Series

indigiFLIX is a free community screening series which takes place year-round in partnership with local, Aboriginal community organizations. Started in 2011 as a response to the lack of year-round Indigenous content in Toronto's mainstream and independent film scene, the indigiFLIX series connects community members, youth and organizations at a grass roots level, building relationships with key community groups and connecting ppl to indigenous film content, keeping Canadian Indigenous film alive and relevant.

Funding and Program Partners

We partner with local organizations to offer this program. In the past that has included:

  • TIFF Bell Lightbox
  • Gabriel Dumont Housing Coop
  • University of Toronto First Nations House
  • Toronto Council Fire Native Canadian Centre
  • Native Canadian Centre of Toronto

Program Impact

The indigiFLIX series offers a rare opportunity for residents of Toronto and the GTA to connect with Indigenous content and filmmaking in a supportive, accessible community setting. in its inaugural year, indigiFLIX programmed four free screenings, and saw audience numbers grow from 30 to 80, over the course of just a few months. This program has a trememdous impact on Indigenous people living in the city, fostering a sense of belonging and appreciation.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

'A strong artistic community can stimulate economic and educational outcomes, shape and celebrate the character of neighbourhoods, and contribute to community well-being.' 

Participant Vignette

"My family and I went to the "Wapos Bay" movie at First Nations House and had so much fun! The whole evening was a great way to celebrate our culture and laugh together as a community" - Paul (as told to imagineNATIVE volunteer).

imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour

The imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour exists to provide communities access to Indigenous-made film and video. The Tour provides an opportunity to the larger community to experience imagineNATIVE's youth shorts program and our opening or closing night feature presentation outside of the festival in Toronto. Bringing programming to these remote communities contributes to their artistic vibrancy by inspiring community members and sharing works that reflect Aboriginal perspectives and stories.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour provides access to video-making workshops and free screenings of films made by Aboriginal artists to Aboriginal people living in remote, rural communities across Ontario. The Tour reaches roughly 2,000 people and engages over 40 youth in the hands-on workshops, their final works being screened for their peers and one youth video-maker being selected to attend the festival in October. Last year's videovoting contest winner was Shania Tabobondung's short video, "My Story", which recently won the Youth Award for Best Short Film, almost unanimously, at the Festival Ciné Alter'Natif in Nantes, France. 

Funding and Program Partners

The imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour partners with schools, Friendship Centres, local theatres and other community groups to present the films and workshops. Past sponsors include: the OAC, Telus, OCAD University, Southern Ontarion Library Services, RPM.fm and various Media partners.

Program Impact

Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to reach out to other youth! It's truly an honour.

I guess what I wanted to emphasize is that everyone has a story to tell and your voice is a gift. Use it. Your experiences are important, you are important. It's a good sign to be afraid, that means it means something. Get out of your comfort zone. Courage isn't being fearless, it's overcoming fear.

I've realized I've written a lot but I honestly have a lot of teachings I learned from this journey I want to share with everyone else, haha.

Miigwetch,

Shania

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"Canada's urban regions play a critical role in the life of the country." 

Participant Vignette

John Hupfield, Artist and Tour Coordinator, "The opportunity to bring some really innovative movies to communities that may otherwise never get to see them was really amazing. Hearing what some of the youth had to say and having the chance to speak to them, I really wouldn't give that up for anything. At the same time though I'd like to say that so much more work needs to be done to bring creative opportunities and outlets to these places."

What You Can Do

imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival (October)

Activities a donation will support

Support will help imagineNATIVE to:

  • Assist with presenting local Indigenous screenings in Toronto
  • Assist with artists fees as well as space and equipment rentals for youth workshops, installations and industry series
  • Assist with festival travel, accommodations, and per diem for artists, buyers and distributors.(?)
  • Assist with burseries for artsists to attend mentorship programs (e.g. Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, Charles Street Video)
  • Assist with subisdised programs and outreach to at-risk groups

Donation impact

With financial support, imagineNATIVE will be able to achieve continuous interaction with international and local film organizations and audiences, cementing Indigenous contirbution as an important part of the Toronto's landscape and identity.

indigiFLIX Community Screening Series

Activities a donation will support

Investing in the indigiFLIX Free Community Screenings series will supplement cost of venue and equipment rentals and help with payment of artist fees. Funds are required for advertising and outreach to create awareness about the program. 

Donation impact

With financial support we will be able to grow this series, serving Toronto's Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal population with access to Indigenous-made work at no cost.

imagineNATIVE Film + Video Tour

Activities a donation will support

With additional funding we could further expand the Tour to reach even more communities. ultimately, funding would cover:

  • Artist fees and equipment rentals
  • Travel and accommodation of Tour Coordinator and Workshop Facilitator
  • Travel and accommodation of youth video-maker selected to screen work at Festival in Ocotober
  • Promotional materials and advertising in local media outlets.

Donation impact

With financial support, imagineNATIVE will be able to cover fees associated with the tour, such as artist fees, equipment rentals, travel and accommodation. With funding, we can expand our program's reach to include new communities.

Contact

Jason Ryle
Executive Director
416.585.2333
Charitable Number: 898938717RR0001

Finance & Governance

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