imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival Returns Oct. 14-18

Angirattut (Coming Home)

By Pat Mullen

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival kicks off its 16th season tomorrow with a four-day line up of film and media works by Indigenous filmmakers. The festival opens with the acclaimed dramatic feature Mekko, which recently screened in the Contemporary World Cinema programme at the Toronto International Film Festival and is preceded by the short film Etlinisigu’niet (Bleed Down) by Jeff Barnaby (Rhymes for Young Ghouls). Etlinisigu’niet is one of four NFB at imagineNATIVE from the Souvenir project, which rewrites representations of Indigenous persons in Canadian cinema by repurposing images from the NFB archive. The festival showcases art by Canadian and international filmmakers alike and balance past and present works with a mix of retrospective screenings and contemporary premieres. Like every great film festival, imagineNATIVE also offers a fine balance of fiction and non-fiction filmmaking. Here are some of the documentary highlights at imagineNATIVE 2015:


Home Fires: Canadian Shorts
Dir. Various | 2014-15 | Canada | 120 min.
Thursday, October 15, 5:15 pm at TIFF Lightbox

Canada’s Indigenous filmmaker spotlight features two short docs worth the ticket. Amanda Strong and Bracken Hanuse Corlett’s original and breathtakingly beautiful animated film Mia’ is a mixed-form odyssey into the differing landscapes of urban space. Caroline Monnet’s Mobilize, on the other hand, hypnotically repurposes images from the NFB archives to the propulsive throat songs of Tanya Tagaq. (Read POV’s TIFF reviews of both films here.) Home Fires also hits an urgent note with the short Route Fires, which brings a story of a community that encounters change when Indigenous women go missing.

Angirattut (Coming Home)
Dir. Zacharias Kunuk | 2014 | Canada | 85 min.
Friday, October 16, 10:30 am at TIFF Lightbox

Zacharias Kunuk unveils his latest film six months after his debut feature Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner was named the best Canadian film of all time in a poll conducted by TIFF. That’s a lot of pressure to live up to, but the director of the first-ever Inuktitut feature film ever holds strong to roots and rises to the challenge with the intimate documentary Angirattut (Coming Home), which imagineNATIVE presents in Inuktitut without English subtitles. Will this immersive experience in Inuit culture join Atanarjuat on the next TIFF top ten?

Solar Flares: Experimental Shorts
Dir. Various | 2014-15 | various | 84 min.
Friday, October 16, 1:00 pm at TIFF Lightbox

imagineNATIVE offers a collection of experimental shorts from a range of Indigenous filmmakers from around the world. These films are a mix of performance pieces, (re)appropriation, and shape-shifting. Michelle Latimer (Alias) offer an experimental short doc with Nimmikaage (She Dances for People), which, like Jeff Barnaby’s Etlinisigu’niet, takes back images of Indigenous culture from the archives and reinterprets them in a new light that better reflects Indigenous experiences. This particular short draws attention to the elements of performance and the creation of ‘us’/’them’ binaries by juxtaposing different archival images. It’s lyrical and powerful.

The Grandfather of All Treaties
Dir. Candace Maracle | 2015 | Canada | 60 min.
Saturday, October 17, 2:45 pm at TIFF Lightbox

Doc fans eager to see a story of Canadian activism will want to catch The Grandfather of All Treaties. This screening, co-presented by Idle No More Ontario, tackles Canada’s history of broken promises as director Candace Maracle examines the Two Row Wampum, which is considered to be the most important diplomatic instrument in Mohawk (Haudenosaunee) history that recognizes the co-existence between First Nations and settlers’ sovereignty and ecological stewardship. This treaty, however, hasn’t been honoured four-hundred years after its drafting and The Grandfather of All Treaties captures the collective call to action as Indigenous persons across Canada mobilize to have it recognized. This documentary feature screens with a selection of short films.

Trailer: The Grandfather of All Treaties – a film by Candace Maracle from Candace Maracle on Vimeo.

The Price of Peace
Dir. Kim Webby | 2015 | Aotearoa [New Zealand] | 87 min.
Friday, October 16 5:00 pm at TIFF Lightbox

imagineNATIVE includes the International Premiere of the feature documentary The Price of Peace, which tells the story of Maori activist Tame it and his fight to clear his name following serious accusations. The film tells of illegal police surveillance and raids that fall upon Tame It’s community in retaliation to his activism. The film strike a global chord as activist, particularly Indigenous activists, are branded as activists and radicals when they fight for their rights.

*The 2015 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival runs Oct. 14-18 in Toronto.
Please visit for more information on this year’s festival.*