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! 

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Berlinale Talents - Amie Batalibasi 

This February I was catapulted via a 24 hour trip, from Melbourne's summer to the middle of a Berlin winter and the biggest film festival in the world: Berlinale - the Berlin International Film Festival. 

I was honoured to be invited to be one of 250 participants from 80 countries for Berlinale Talents - a summit that happens alongside the film festival. We were all put up in a backpackers, and for 6 days we engaged in a truly inspiring program of daily communal breakfasts, expert panels, presentations, workshops, networking events, screenings, parties and more...

It was pretty amazing meeting the other talents from all disciplines - producers, composers, editors, cinematographers - and to be surrounded by industry and filmmakers sharing their knowledge and experience through panels and discussions. 

Also, I was able to connect with 'the native crew' - some of the indigenous filmmakers and industry that I've been privileged to meet on my travels to the USA, Canada and NZ in the last 18 months.  It's so great to have that immediate connection to this community especially when travelling to a new place. I was spotted by someone after being in Berlin for 10 minutes!

The theme of this year's Berlinale Talents was 'secrets'. So there was lots of revealing secrets and mentioning of the word 'secrets', shhhh don't tell anyone! :) Highlights included a discussion called "Dead or a Life? Passing Away on Screen" with filmmakers Kamila Andini (Seen and Unseen) and Lucile Hazdihalilovic; an acting workshop 'The Non-Actor in You' with Josephine Decker where we did things like let strangers lead us around the room with our eyes closed (argh!); getting behind the scenes of a Wes Anderson production with storyboard artist Andrew Amondson; participating in a 'speed dating' dinner with 400+ filmmakers and film industry professionals; hearing Gus Van Sant and Willem Dafoe talk about their careers; walking the streets of Berlin in it's wintery beauty; eating standing up in the street between films and events; and of course getting to meet an international community of passionate and talented fellow filmmakers.

This was one of those times where I felt completely inspired. Although the weather was frosty it was a heart warming experience that's for sure. I feel privileged to have been able to attend. Thanks to Screen Australia for funding my way there.


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.