iNstitute Blog

Your source for insights, opinions, and celebrations of Indigenous screen media and talent.


This week, the iNstitute Blog features two exciting filmmakers offering their take on the European Film Market at the Berlinale and their experiences with our NATIVe Indigenous Cinema Stand. Find out what they have to say! 

A full list of all our iNstitute Programs and Applications is available here

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Making  Deals:  Welcome  to  the  European  Film  Market - Amie Batalibasi

I walked  into  Martin-Grophius-Bau,  the  heart  of  the  European  Film  Market  (EFM)  in  Berlin,  and  pulled  out  some  Euros  to  grab  a  coffee.  My  eyes  scanned  the  room  –  this  certainly  wasn’t  the  U.S.,  nor  was  this  like  anything  I’d  been  to  before  –  but  I  was  ready  to  give  it  a  try.  It  was  time  to  get  to  work  to  sell  my  feature  documentary,  OUT  OF  STATE.  I  had  been  to  film  festivals  in  the  past  –  the  screenings,  the  parties,  the  networking  –but  nothing  really  prepared  me  for  the  massive  experience  of  the  EFM,  which  is  just  one  piece  of  a  very  large  puzzle.  

Each  year,  filmmakers,  film  lovers,  film  buyers  and  sales  agents  descend  on  Berlin  for  three  concurrent  events:  Berlinale,  Berlinale  Talents,  and,  of  course,  the  EFM.    Berlinale  is  a  world-famous  film  festival,  bringing  in  top  work  from  Europe  and  beyond,  while  Berlinale  Talents  takes  250  film  professionals  from  around  the  world  and  helps  them  to  broaden  their  contacts  and  their  skill  set.  So,  what  is  the  European  Film  Market?    

The  EFM  is  exactly  what  the  name  suggests:  a  place  where  people  can  share  their  film  with  potential  buyers  and  potential  buyers  can  hunt  down  their  next  acquisition.    Martin-Grophius-Bau  was  filled  with  stands,  much  like  a  trade  show,  with  people  at  the  ready  to  buy  or  sell  movies.  Throngs  of  people  wander  through  the  stands,  in  blazers  and  varying  shades  of  professional  dress,  pitching  themselves  or  their  work  to  each  other,  taking  meetings.  It’s  all  about  making  a  deal.    Those  looking  to  sell  their  film  will  often  arrange  for  market  screenings  where  they  play  the  film  to  potential  buyers  and  press  in  the  hopes  of  making  a  sale.    You  can  tell  a  lot  of  the  usual  suspects  show  up  year  after  year,  given  the  number  of  nods  or  friendly  hellos  exchanged  between  attendees.  

I  did  my  best  to  hustle  like  the  others,  passing  out  business  cards,  walking  through  the  stands,  and  meeting  with  potential  buyers.  But,  I  wasn’t  alone.  I  was  there  with  a  co-hort  of  other  NATIVe  Fellows  at  the  Berlinale  EFM,  a  collection  of  filmmakers  from  around  the  world  brought  to  the  Market  to  learn  about  this  end  of  the  process  and  to  hopefully  find  pathways  to  sell  our  work.  The  fellows  came  from  around  the  world,  including  New  Zealand,  Canada,  Mexico,  Norway,  and  Greenland.  It  was  easy  to  be  in  awe  of  the  work  they  did,  and  I  felt  an  immediate  kinship  with  them:  we  were  indigenous  people,  trying  to  forge  our  way  in  this  space.  I  couldn’t  help  but  be  excited  at  the  potential  ahead,  the  idea  of  building  a  pathway  to  sell  native  content  around  the  world.  Why  not?    

But  this  vision  is  one  that  I  would  have  never  thought  of  on  my  own.  Stepping  outside  of  my  community  in  Hawaii  is  a  big  deal,  let  alone  trying  to  push  forward  work  on  a  national  scale.  It  took  the  support  of  organizations  like  ImagineNATIVE  in  Canada,  Pacific  Islanders  in  Communications,  the  Sundance  Institute’s  Native  and  Indigenous  Lab,  Vision  Maker  Media,  and  NATIVe  at  Berlinale  to  help  me  thinkbigger.  And  so  in  the  same  way  I  want  all  our  filmmaking  community  to  think  bigger,  too.  It’s  a  fight  to  get  out  work  made,  it’s  a  fight  to  get  our  work  out  there,  but  it’s  well  worth  it.  

For  anyone  interested,  definitely  apply  for  ImagineNATIVE’s  fellowship  next  year!  It’s  a  much  bigger  world  than  I  ever  imagined.  

Aloha,  Ciara


From the Field: Making Deals: Welcome to the European Film Market - Ciara Lacy

I walked into Martin-Grophius-Bau, the heart of the European Film Market (EFM) in Berlin, and pulled out some Euros to grab a coffee. My eyes scanned the room – this certainly wasn’t the U.S., nor was this like anything I’d been to before – but I was ready to give it a try. It was time to get to work to sell my feature documentary, OUT OF STATE.

I had been to film festivals in the past – the screenings, the parties, the networking – but nothing really prepared me for the massive experience of the EFM, which is just one piece of a very large puzzle. Each year, filmmakers, film lovers, film buyers and sales agents descend on Berlin for three concurrent events: Berlinale, Berlinale Talents, and, of course, the EFM.  Berlinale is a world-famous film festival, bringing in top work from Europe and beyond, while Berlinale Talents takes 250 film professionals from around the world and helps them to broaden their contacts and their skill set. So, what is the European Film Market?

The EFM is exactly what the name suggests: a place where people can share their film with potential buyers and potential buyers can hunt down their next acquisition.  Martin-Grophius-Bau was filled with stands, much like a trade show, with people at the ready to buy or sell movies. Throngs of people wander through the stands, in blazers and varying shades of professional dress, pitching themselves or their work to each other, taking meetings. It’s all about making a deal.  Those looking to sell their film will often arrange for market screenings where they play the film to potential buyers and press in the hopes of making a sale. You can tell a lot of the usual suspects show up year after year, given the number of nods or friendly hellos exchanged between attendees.

I did my best to hustle like the others, passing out business cards, walking through the stands, and meeting with potential buyers. But, I wasn’t alone. I was there with a co-hort of other NATIVe Fellows at the Berlinale EFM, a collection of filmmakers from around the world brought to the Market to learn about this end of the process and to hopefully find pathways to sell our work. The fellows came from around the world, including New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Norway, and Greenland. It was easy to be in awe of the work they did, and I felt an immediate kinship with them: we were indigenous people, trying to forge our way in this space. I couldn’t help but be excited at the potential ahead, the idea of building a pathway to sell native content around the world. Why not?

But this vision is one that I would have never thought of on my own. Stepping outside of my community in Hawaii is a big deal, let alone trying to push forward work on a national scale. It took the support of organizations like ImagineNATIVE in Canada, Pacific Islanders in Communications, the Sundance Institute’s Native and Indigenous Lab, Vision Maker Media, and NATIVe at Berlinale to help me think bigger. And so, in the same way, I want all our filmmaking community to think bigger, too. It’s a fight to get out work made, it’s a fight to get our work out there, but it’s well worth it. For anyone interested, definitely, apply for ImagineNATIVE’s fellowship next year! It’s a much bigger world than I ever imagined.


A full list of all our iNstitute Programs and Applications is available here!




It’s an exciting time here at imagineNATIVE! With the fall 2017 launch of the imagineNATIVE “iNstitute” (“iN” being our short form and a fun way to play with and Indigenize the lovely colonial term “institute”!) we are excited to roll out yet another initiative - the iNstitute blog!

For so long, imagineNATIVE has wanted - and attempted to varying degrees with such a small staff - to launch a blog celebrating the accomplishments of our artists, offering industry insights and promoting opportunities through our iNstitute initiatives. Finally, with some staff expansion and the creation of the iNstitute, we are equipped to communicate the incredible successes of our community and upcoming opportunities as we travel to different festivals and markets and develop professional development programs for Indigenous film and media artists.

We wanted to kick-off our first iNstitute blog entry by introducing the staff of the department; We’re only 2 strong, but I can tell you, now that there is this capacity, watch out for some big things to come! (see our upcoming iNstitute on-site and virtual "Spring Half-Time Show and Schmooze" event on Wednesday April 25 at 6:30pm!)

There’s never enough time to get to know us during the Festival as we rush to execute each Industry event. Here is some insight into the passion we hold for the work that we do.


Daniel Northway-Frank, Institute Director


My decade of work and career in Indigenous film and media arts started long before I worked with imagineNATIVE. Recently I tried to think back as to what influenced me into this niche of the film industry, and it brought me back to my childhood. I had the good fortune to be raised by two very liberal elementary school teachers, Dan (I’m not officially a “junior” for clarification) and Patricia (Corrigan) Frank. My father (also an enrichment teacher in his career) routinely took me out for “life” experiences around us at home and on travels that greatly influenced me. During the summers to my grandparents’ cottage in Port Elgin, Ontario, my dad took me to the nearby Saugeen First Nations Reservation and their summer powwow. I remember the traditional dancing of the eagle feather dancers, and the booths of art and crafts from regional creators, and pop-can art that turned them into pinwheels and airplanes. SEE PICTURE. At the end of my trip I went to the “trading post’ and got myself my first Indigenous art keepsake for the day: a totem pole :) . Considering the work I am doing now at imagineNATIVE, I find this token of my experience amusing, but at the time, and for a long time afterward, I cherished that totem; until I left home for university it reminded me of a special time with my dad and I think subconsciously gave me a foundation of interest in Indigenous culture.

In an article that was written during the 14th imagineNATIVE festival for my hometown newspaper, I spoke to the importance of volunteering as I ventured into the imagineNATIVE world with some unconscious connection and comradery. As I recall in 2009 during my interview for the Programming Coordinator position with my now good friends and colleagues Kerry Swanson and Danis Goulet, they asked me “why I wanted to work at imagineNATIVE”. Aside from my commitment to years of voluntary work, I reflected: That being a gay man, although “my” community’s experiences were completely different from most of those of the Indigenous community, I felt a comeradery as “underdogs” - marginalized, ostracized minorities who deserved a chance to creatively express themselves. I always have rooted for the underdog, the unique outsider in TV and film, and now I see this opportunity given to me as a culmination of purpose of my own personal history to direct my professional life.

At the time it was consciously a job at a place I cared about, but I didn’t realize until only recently that this is really what I am meant to do.

I spoke to my colleague Jason Ryle after an emotional closed session with Indigenous documentary artists and leaders where I called myself an “outsider” and I was quickly contradicted by one of my Indigenous colleagues, saying “Daniel, you are not an outsider”. I knew I wasn’t, but I didn’t use the word - and didn’t know the words - I meant to describe myself at that moment. This has been something that I have learned - that I need to articulate how I feel about myself. Although culturally and genetically I'm an “outsider”, I am not one in the Indigenous media arts community - I am quite the opposite - but the terms for non-Indigenous supporters (“ally”) and colonial relationship identifiers (“settler”) just didn’t feel like they represented me and my relationship to my community of friends, artists and colleagues. Jason and I discussed this, and tried to find a term to articulate how I identify myself - and he had a lovely idea for a description that rang true to me: A citizen of this land from european descent who has dedicated his career to supporting the Indigenous film and media arts community.

And I can’t wait to do more and show you what we have in store.




Adriana Chartrand, Institute Coordinator


Hello! My name’s Adriana Chartrand and I’m the Institute Coordinator at imagineNATIVE. I am Métis Nation from Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba, as well as of Irish/Welsh descent. I volunteered for the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in 2015 and 2016 and was hired as the Volunteer Coordinator for the 2017 festival, which transformed into my current year-round position.

During my first year of university I felt lost - I felt that nothing I’d encountered so far in school truly excited me and I had no idea what career I wanted to pursue. While trying to cobble together a full first-year schedule, I decided to take an Introduction to Film Studies course (taught by the remarkable George Toles, who taught me how to read a film like a book and ignited my love for the medium).

Now I have two degrees in Cinema Studies (with an undergrad minor in Women’s & Gender Studies) and I have no doubt that this is the field I’m meant to work in. The lack of authentic Indigenous representation in film is hard to miss if you’re Indigenous and taking Film Studies in university. Feeling frustrated by the lack of stories that I felt were so important and that I desperately wanted to see on screen, I took a course with filmmaker Tasha Hubbard that opened my eyes to the wide variety of really freakin’ good Indigenous cinema that was being created all over the world: she showed us Taika Waititi’s Boy, her own heartbreaking exposé of Saskatoon’s “Starlight Tours” Two Worlds Colliding, and numerous game-changing shorts and features by filmmakers like Danis Goulet and Alanis Obomsawin. I was hooked.

I worked throughout my undergrad as a Resident Care Worker and a Summer Activities Coordinator for Villa Rosa Inc., a residence in Winnipeg for pregnant women and their babies/children that has many Indigenous girls and women in residence. Working with these women and holding their beautiful babies as they shared parts of their lives and experiences with me made me realize how important it is to me to work with Indigenous peoples and communities, in one capacity or another. This realization, along with my introduction to Indigenous film, guided me to my current path.

Indigenous peoples have a wealth of stories, both traditional and lived, that are translated to screen in so many thrilling, innovative, challenging, and moving ways -  as the non-Indigenous film world begins to wake up to the breadth of talent in our communities, we will continue to see our stories on screen at festivals and cinemas around the world, with increasing frequency. One day soon we’ll also see them in the huge Cineplexes, our titles followed by a long list of show times and dates, and in the prime-time TV slots - our families on sitcoms, our characters in the leading dramas. We’ll show the world who we are.