Breaking the Mould: Developing Indigenous Narrative Models

TIFF Bell Lightbox, Learning Studios A&B
October 20, 9:30am–10:30am

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With the mainstream media outlets built upon Western storytelling structures, Indigenous narratives and cosmologies don’t often fit into these prescribed formats. From Willie Dunn to Shelley Niro, Warwick Thornton to Jeff Barnaby, other narrative forms have emerged in recent years that challenge on-screen conventions. Lead by producer Gregory Coyes and artist Sean Stiller, this panel examines the development and future of Indigenous narratives - sub-themes, cyclical narratives and the use of symbolism and traditional story structure - to stimulate discussion and contemplate future casting of Indigenous on-screen artforms.


Gregory Coyes / Moderator

Greg has worked extensively in the Indigenous broadcast community over the last thirty years as an award-winning film-maker, and as an educator and writer. He has worked as a producer/director with the National Film Board and his films have aired on many of the major networks in Canada. Greg has consulted and written for the Smithsonian at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC, and he has also worked as an instructor of video production techniques at Capilano University in Vancouver, British Columbia. Most recently he produced and hosted LIVE from the HUNDRED YEARS CAFE, an 8 x 1 hour long series featuring contemporary Native music for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, and the CBC. And, he is he founder of the SLOW MEDIA Community, and online video library that is actively disrupting the predominant sense of our relationship with our media. Greg is a guitar player and songwriter and he is based in Vancouver, Canada.

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Cara Mumford / Filmmaker / Red Card World - Tree

Living in Peterborough, Cara Mumford is a freelance director, cinematographer and editor, as well as a dramaturg and instructor of Indigenous dance at Trent University. She first worked with imagineNATIVE in 2014 when the Festival commissioned her to create the short When It Rains for their Stolen Sisters Digital Initiative.

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Warwick Thornton / Filmmaker / Sweet Country

Warwick Thornton (Kaytetye) is an internationally renowned director, screenwriter and cinematographer. Born and raised in Alice Springs, Warwick’s short films short films Nana and Greenbush premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival (with Nana winning the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film). His landmark first feature Samson and Delilah premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009, winning the prestigious Caméra d’Or. Warwick has had numerous works at imagineNATIVE over the years and was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015.


Diego Sarmiento / Rio Verde / Green River

 L-R: Brothers Alvaro and Diego Sarmiento (Quechua) are two of Peru’s fasting rising filmmakers. Together they have alternated duties as director and producer on a number of celebrated projects that have screened at festivals the world over. Alvaro is a visual artist, screenwriter, and producer who wrote and directed the award-winning short Kay Pacha (2014) and wrote and produced Sonia’s Dream (2015), both of which screened at imagineNATIVE. In addition to producing, Diego has directed several short films, including Earth’s Children (2014) which premiered at the Berlinale and Sonia’s Dream (2015). Río Verde, which premiered at the 2017 Berlinale, is their first feature film.

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Josephine Stewart-Te Whiu / Filmmaker / WARU

Josephine is an award-winning Auckland based writer and actor across film, television and theatre. Josephine was one of eight filmmakers selected to participate in Script to Screen’s 2016 FilmUp Mentorship Programme – being mentored by Briar Grace Smith and Dana Rotberg. When she isn’t writing or acting, Josephine is a casting assistant for Film, TV, and Advertising. 

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Renae Maihi / Filmmaker / WARU
(Ngāpuhi/Te Arawa/Ngāti Whakaue) is an award-winning and critically-acclaimed writer and director in theatre and film, many of which have been presented at imagineNATIVE. She is also the co-director of Ka Puta Ko Au, which is in this year’s Festival.


Awanui Simich-Pene (Ngāpuhi/Ngāti Hāua/Tūwharetoa/Ngāti Apakura) has directed for television and film, and has served as a script supervisor on numerous projects, including Power Rangers and This Is Piki. For Awanui, directing is an extremely-rewarding outlet for creativity, exploration, connection and heart.

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