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.


Lisa Jackson

Named one of Playback Magazine’s 10 to Watch in 2012, Lisa Jackson’s genre-blending films span documentary and fiction and include current affairs, animation, VR and a musical. They’ve appeared on most networks in Canada, screened at major festivals internationally, and garnered numerous awards, including a 2010 Genie for Best Short Film for Savage. In 2015, she directed the drama segments for the APTN/ZDF series docudrama series 1491: The Untold Story of the Americas Before Columbus, based on the best-selling book. She recently directed her first 360 degree film with Secret Location for CBC's "The Current," is co-directing a one-hour doc for CBC's "Firsthand," and developing a large-scale immersive audio-visual installation on the power of indigenous languages. She is the Director of the Gladue Video Project with Osgoode Hall Law School, a pilot project that will profile aboriginal offenders for use in the sentencing process; and the Director Mentor for the National Screen Institute's Aboriginal Documentary Training Program. She is Anishinaabe, has a BFA in Film Production from SFU, is completing her MFA at York University and is an alumna of the Canadian Film Centre's Directors Lab. She works in both fiction and documentary.

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.