Piikani Nation filmmaker/artist Ahnahktsipiitaa chosen for the 2017 NFB/imagineNATIVE Interactive Partnership

Vancouver-based artist will work with
the NFB’s Digital Studio in Vancouver


The National Film Board of Canada and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival announced on October 19 that the 360-degree video experience by Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon) is the 2017 winner of the NFB/imagineNATIVE Interactive Partnership, which aims to support new forms of Indigenous artistic expression by offering Canadian Indigenous artists an opportunity to create audacious, innovative and socially relevant new-media works.

Ahnahktsipiitaa will work with the NFB on a 360-degree video experience that seeks to unearth biases. Growing up in the Piikani Nation in southern Alberta, Ahnahktsipiitaa encountered racism both overt and covert, but he always felt that individuals with those biases would be incapable of holding on to them if they could just see things from a different perspective. This project will investigate how 360-degree video can be used to change peoples’ views.

Chosen by an NFB and imagineNATIVE selection committee, this project will be developed by Ahnahktsipiitaa with the NFB’s acclaimed Digital Studio in Vancouver, through an intensive year-long program that will include access to key creative thinkers in the field of 360-degree video and VR. He’ll also have a chance to observe and liaise with the NFB’s digital team on other projects.

“We’re so pleased to continue this partnership with the NFB on this important professional development program in the digital space. Ahnahktsipiitaa will have some amazing experiences over the next year in working with the Digital Studio in Vancouver, to find the most engaging treatment for his interactive project, and we look forward to supporting the end result under the imagineNATIVE Institute,” said Daniel Northway-Frank, imagineNATIVE’s Industry Director.

“We’re looking forward to working with Ahnahktsipiitaa on his proposal. With 360-degree video still a very nascent form, it’ll be exciting to work with this talented, up-and-coming artist to explore the potential of this new immersive format and its capacity to engage audiences,” said Robert McLaughlin, executive producer of the NFB’s Digital Studio. 

Ahnahktsipiitaa originally hails from the Piikani Nation in Brocket, Alberta, and spent most of his formative years in Lethbridge. After years of experience in the film industry as an actor, Ahnahktsipiitaa made a decision to become a filmmaker, entering the SFU School of Contemporary Arts BFA Film Production program. Ahnahktsipiitaa regularly works within the film industry as an AD, and most notably spent a year working as the assistant to Alejandro González Iñárritu on the feature The Revenant. Ahnahktsipiitaa has been involved with the Talking Stick Film Festival in a number of capacities, screening his films there (The Fast, 2014) as well as serving as the director and curator of Reel Reservations: Cinematic Indigenous Sovereignty Series and the upcoming Reel IndiGenuity youth film series. When not busy with his own productions, Ahnahktsipiitaa works on building Blackfoot Nation Films and collaborates with Section 35 (Kill Mascots, Save the People ad campaign) and The Snotty Nose Rez Kids (music videos forSkoden” and “Clash of the Clans”). He currently works and resides on the unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Previous projects selected for the NFB/imagineNATIVE Interactive Partnership are De Nort (2012) by the ITWE Collective, Similkameen Crossroads (2013) by Tyler Hagan, the 2015 Venice Biennale-selected Ice Fishing (2014) by Jordan Bennett, as well as Red Card, a 2016 project by Métis filmmaker Cara Mumford.