The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival held in Toronto celebrates the latest works by indigenous artists at the forefront of innovation in film, video, radio and new media and this year the focus was on New Zealand.
The Māori Spotlight was the largest showcase ever held at imagineNATIVE, both in terms of the work presented and the number of delegates who attended. It featured two short film programs curated by Kath Akuhata-Brown, which included older and more recent works. Lisa Reihana’s video installation In Pursuit of Venus screened and the feature film programme included Mana Waka, Neglected Miracle and Fresh Meat. All screenings were well attended, with Mt. Zion playing to a full house. Executive Director Jason Ryle and his team created numerous opportunities for delegates to discuss the potential for future collaborations, including a series of public panels and roundtables.
The pitching competition judged by Ainsley Gardiner and the writing workshops supervised by Kathleen Meek (Bell Media) and Briar Grace-Smith (NZFC) added to the many examples of cultural cohesion that occurred and served to strengthen the notion of a global indigenous network.
The ‘Indigenous Media Art in Aotearoa’ panel was a festival highlight with standing room only. The panellists' broad knowledge of the television and film industry, its challenges and their vision for the future evoked much discussion and healthy debate from the audience afterwards.
The New Zealand Film Commission was proud to support the attendance of feature film producers Quinton Hita, Ainsley Gardiner and emerging filmmakers, Renae Maihi and Allan George.
"The imagineNATIVE film festival is incredibly important because it attracts filmmakers with a deeper cultural & spiritual connection to the world which is sometimes amiss at other film festivals. Having a shared and similar history of colonisation has meant that all of our peoples face similar struggles. It became apparent to me that the only way we can make progress with some of these enduring issues is to hold hands with one another and encourage aboriginal storytelling which says something to our people." - Renae Maihi.
“Most of our time was spent in the TIFF Lightbox. To potentially sit in a seat which Martin Scorsese or Tom Hanks has sat was a great reminder of the possibilities. It also reminded me that the imagination is something to be protected and nurtured. It is ok not to think in a linear traditional fashion, that is the business of the creative. I say that because I went over there wanting to explore and be truly present and appreciative of each moment.” - Renae Maihi.
“During my time at iN, I met many international filmmakers, went to several screenings and attended as many panels and workshops as humanly possible. It was educational, and somewhat unusual to hear about the state of our own film industry in a North American setting, in both the ‘Producer's Masterclass’, and in the 'Indigenous Media Art in Aotearoa' panel. A highlight for me was at the ‘Director's Masterclass', where Australian Ivan Sen (Mystery Road), a Director and DOP like myself, provided an insight into how he manages to successfully perform both roles, in an industry that is determined to split the disciplines. I was fortunate enough to chat to him afterwards, and he provided me with additional advice on how to manage both skill sets without sacrificing the quality of either.” - Allan George.
“It was an honour to travel alongside the other Māori filmmakers, all different, all passionate, all articulate, and all obvious beneficiaries and products of the social and political awakening in Māori society and the Māori film and television industry that New Zealand has witnessed over the last decade. If we think that our small fire in this part of the world burns brightly in the international film arena, to global indigenous communities, our Māori light, lights up the sky.” - Quinton Hita.
Image: Danis Goulet (former imagineNATIVE Exec. Director), Ainsley Gardiner, Quinton Hita, Producer Jennifer Podemski and Filmmaker and imagineNATIVE Programmer Michelle Latimer.