20th Annual Festival News


Written by Jason Ryle, Executive Director


This is a big year for imagineNATIVE as we welcome new directors to the team and as we build towards our 20th annual Festival. It’s really incredible to think about 20 years of Indigenous-made programming. This century has seen the rise of Indigenous screen storytellers, and I can’t express how incredible it’s been to have a part in this growth.

We will be releasing our programming details later in the summer, but we can share some details to give you a taste of what we have planned. One big piece of news is the addition of a new day to the Festival, meaning that the Festival will be a six-day event. This year, the Festival will begin Tuesday, October 22 with the Welcome Gathering and Opening Night Gala and will close on Sunday, October 27. This extra day will give us a bit more room to fit in all our regular programming and also our special 20th anniversary programming that we have planned! So please put this in your calendars now! The 20th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is October 22-27, 2019!!!

As you can see, we also have a special 20th anniversary logo for this year. Our existing arrow design was first launched at our 2006 Festival and was designed by the incredible Kent Monkman (who was also a long-serving board member in our early years). Our 20th logo version was designed by James Monkman who also happens to be Kent’s nephew - so we kept it in the family on that one and I love what James has done. James has shared his thoughts and insights into the new logo.


The intent behind the 20th anniversary design was to show the connectedness, but also the unique vibrancy of the Indigenous film and media arts landscape.

The design takes recognizable shapes and geometry from Cree beadwork, but uses it in a way that resembles digital circuitry. Also present is a distinct reference to the four directions, that help guide us through life and in our creative process.


James Monkman is a Cree visual artist and designer residing in Toronto, Ontario. James grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and, thus, often found himself bridging two worlds: with one foot in western culture and the other in Indigenous culture. This unique and seemingly conflicting perspective has helped him understand how to communicate through design in a more effective and versatile way. In each piece he creates, he brings an Indigenous process and perspective. This remains an important point of emphasis for James as it helps give a more holistic structure and direction to his work.

James’ work is diverse and covers a breadth of digital and tactile mediums, which includes: live experience design, animation and motion design, as well as textile and furniture prints. In his work, he consistently explores concepts in traditional indigenous thought, language, and cosmology. As a result, these important concepts inform his pursuit of creating a forward looking aesthetic that illustrates how imperative the Indigenous perspective is in our rapidly evolving Canadian culture.

Submissions Deadline June 15

Also a reminder to everyone far and wide that our submissions are now open for all sections. There is no fee to submit - everything is FREE - and the deadline to submit your work is June 15, 2019.
It’s important to review our Artistic & Programming Policy, which you will find on our website before you submit, particularly in regards to eligibility.
I also want to reiterate that you do not need to submit a final cut of your film with your submission form. You can submit a fine cut or even a rough cut - we prefer to receive an earlier cut so we can track your film rather than miss an opportunity to screen your work.
Our Programming Team will be screening the works throughout the coming weeks and months and programming decisions will be sent out in early August. As always, please email Judith Schuyler if you have any questions about submissions or if you need any assistance.

I will be at the Cannes Film Festival this week representing iN at the market and looking for opportunities to connect with distributors and sales agents. I’m also very much looking forward to attending the second Indigenous Film Summit in Winnipeg on June 4th & 5th. Last year’s Summit was really fantastic and I’m looking forward to the programme that Roger and Charlene have put together this year.

Lastly, I’m incredibly grateful that Spring has finally arrived. Our summer months are always a very busy time for us at iN as we plan the Festival, but it’s also a time that filled with excitement and energy - and this year’s levels are extremely high as we look ahead to our 20th.