Indigenous VR Spotlight

TIFF Bell Lightbox, Green Room (Digital Media Art+Cade)
October 20, 1:45PM – 3:00PM


This is an opportunity to showcase and inform the Indigenous media arts delegates about the state of Virtual Reality and its creative and industry impact in shaping and experiencing Indigenous storytelling. Featuring leading producers and artists, the panel will discuss and present developing and produced content by Indigenous VR creators and allies, and their best practices for stepping into this field creatively, technically and financially.


Presented by:



Jason Edward Lewis

Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary, Concordia University

Jason Edward Lewis is a digital media poet, artist, and software designer. He founded Obx Laboratory for Experimental Media, where he directs research/creation projects on computation as a creative and cultural material. He co-founded the Initiative for Indigenous Futures and the Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace research network. Lewis is a Trudeau Fellow, University Research Chair in Computational Media and the Indigenous Future Imaginary, and Professor of Computation Arts at Concordia University, Montreal.

Lewis' creative work has been featured at Ars Electronica, Mobilefest, Urban Screens, ISEA, SIGGRAPH, and FILE, among other venues, and has been recognized with the inaugural Robert Coover Award for Best Work of Electronic Literature, a Prix Ars Electronica Honorable Mention, several imagineNATIVE Best New Media awards and five solo exhibitions. His scholarly writings on mobile media, video game design, computational texts and typography, machinima and experimental pedagogy with Indigenous communities have appeared in numerous edited collections, journals and conference proceedings.

Before joining academia, Lewis spent fifteen years in Silicon Valley exploring early digital and networked media at the Institute for Research on Learning, Fitch Design, and Interval Research. In 2009 he founded Arts Alliance Laboratory, the research and development arm of London-based venture capital firm Arts Alliance. Born and rasied in northern California, he is Cherokee, Hawaiian and Samoan.


Tracy Rector

Tracy Rector is a Choctaw/Seminole filmmaker, curator, community organizer, and Executive Director and Co-founder of Longhouse Media. She earned her Masters in Education from Antioch University’s First Peoples Program, and specializes in Native American Studies, traditional plant medicine, and documentary film. 

Rector has made 360 short films, and is currently in production of her third feature documentary. As co-producer of the award-winning film Teachings of the Tree People, producer of March Point, and co-director of Clearwater; Rector has developed an awareness and sensitivity to the power of media and film as a modern storytelling tool. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, Cannes Film Festival, ImagineNative, National Geographic’s All Roads Film Project, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and in the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian. Most recently, Rector's VR film, Ch'aak' S'aagi, was one of five selected for TIFF's 2016 inaugural immersive media screenings.

Tracy was raised in Seattle and Albuquerque, both cities which have inspired her artistic and cultural vision. She currently lives in Seattle and sits as a City of Seattle Arts Commissioner.

Lanita Ririnui-Ryan

Tauranga Moana, Nga puhi, Kuki irani - Aotearoa, NZ.

Creator & Co-Producer of Interactive Documentary 'Poi – The Heartbeat of a Nation' at

Lanita Ririnui-Ryan is a freelance producer/director/writer/presenter across multi-platforms in screen production. She is a creative native storyteller of M?ori & Cook Islands decent and company director of Through The Fire Ltd. Lanita has over fifteen years experience across the television/film/digital industry and is a board member of Nga Aho Whakaari - M?ori in Screen Production and an ambassador for The Outlook for Someday Filmmaking Competition.

Nyla Innuksuk

Co-owner, Pinnguaq Productions

Nyla Innuksuk is a co-owner in Pinnguaq Productions, a company rooted in the creation of unique cultural experiences. They operate in Ontario, Nunavut and British Columbia, with a cutting edge mandate to create interactive experiences that push both the limits of technology and cultural expression. Nyla has produced both documentary and narrative films, with her short Kajutaijuq (14) premiering at TIFF and later selected to be a part of the TIFF Top 10 Festival. She has previously worked with the National Film Board of Canada as a director of documentary films and interactive projects. In addition to film, she is an early adopter of Virtual Reality content creation, working with artists such as Glenn Gould, Philip Glass, The Strumbellas, A Tribe Called Red and Polaris Prize Winner Tanya Tagaq.

Marty Flanagan

Marty Flanagan is a creative director at Secret Location, a Toronto-based studio that produces digital content for emerging platforms. With a background in writing, Marty brings a strong narrative focus to virtual reality, developing new ways to tell stories within the VR space. His most recent work includes an immersive documentary on the Highway of Tears, produced with CBC’s The Current and directed by Lisa Jackson. Set in northern British Columbia, the piece was filmed in stereoscopic 360° video and is being shared at a series of cross-Canada forums on MMIW hosted by the CBC.

Marty’s work has garnered recognition at the Emmys, Canadian Screen Awards, Creativity International Awards, The Webby Awards, and more.