What a month it’s been.
The 2011 Festival ended exactly four weeks ago and distance has made the heart grow fonder. It’s an interesting experience working behind-the-scenes and it’s really only been in the past few days that I’ve managed to get perspective on all the incredible things that’ve happened since iN kicked into high gear back in July and didn’t stop until Oct. 23rd.
This past imagineNATIVE was by far our largest ever: we had more programming, higher audience numbers, and more special events than at any time in our history. I’m immensely proud of what we achieved together (the iN crew and you). It was such an amazing feeling throughout the Festival and it’s always so beautiful to see old friends and make new ones – all in celebration of our art and creativity.
But I’d also be lying if I said it was easy.
There’s a phenomenon we in the film festival world call The Post-Festival Blues, and we all experience it in some form or another. It usually happens the week immediately after the Festival finishes (as with my lovely colleagues), but mine was delayed a couple weeks after spending time in Norway and England (a bit of work, a bit of rest, a bit of a sprained ankle, but more on that later). I’ll do my best Carl Jung scowl to offer up my pop-psycho analysis and lay the blame squarely on love.
Reality is somewhat suspended during the Festival: it takes over your life and you happily give your life to it. You’re surrounded by friends and the community and this mega love-in happens that becomes very addictive. (I have to be honest and say that you do also get used to being the centre of attention for the week. ) But when the Festival is over all that ends overnight, et voilà, welcome to the Blues.
But thankfully they end as we all gear up for another round next year! And that’s where we’re at right now. A few grant reports here, several new grant applications there, and next year’s programming and events start to take shape. We also have the annual Tour and a new series of indigiFLIX to look forward to in the new year.
One of the many things I totally love about my job is the opportunity to travel. Two days after imagineNATIVE ended this year I left for Norway. Yes, it was a crazy decision and I should have stayed to rest, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend the Indigenous Film Conference (which IsumaTV documented) hosted by the Sami Film Centre. Held in Kautokeino – way up north – the conference featured several special guests from around the world. As always, our hosts were impeccable and Sapmi is an incredible nation: so beautiful, so much love and such talent. It was amazing to meet new, up-and-coming filmmakers, see and spend time with old friends, several of whom were also just at imagineNATIVE. Needless to say, there was a lot of reindeer eaten – all meals, plus snacks. They’re masters at preparing the cute buggers in interesting and tasty ways. Loved it, miss it.
After five days north of the Arctic Circle, I got to spend some quality time with Bird Runningwater of the Sundance Institute (and one of iN’s Patrons) in Oslo. It was our first time in the city, which has some fab modern architecture, such as their new opera house. With Bird around, fun’s along for the ride, and fun was definitely driving.
Then it was off to London to stay with an old school friend for five days. I love London. It’s a second home and all I wanted to do was live on the sofa, eat my favourite food, and play video games. All that was brilliantly accomplished and then some (wee bit of shopping, several pubs….when in Rome). Also managed to twist my ankle on the one day in the past five months that I was all but stationary. Barely moved 10 metres that day. Typical me. Still kind of hurts…
OK. I need to get back to work. Grants beckon seductively, and who am I to resist? Great to see so many of you at A Tribe Called Red last Friday. I’m still playing catch-up with all my neglected friends who I so cavalierly set aside to focus on the Festival. If I haven’t seen you yet: I love you and I’ll see you soon.
Jason Ryle is the Executive Director at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. Jason oversees all aspects of the organization including operations, the annual festival and programming. He sits on the Board of Directors for Vtape, an independent video distributor, and is also a script reader for The Harold Greenberg Fund, which provides financial aid to Canadian filmmakers. As an award-winning writer, Jason has written for the Smithsonian Institution and numerous publications throughout North America. He made his first short film in 2005 and has been programming alongside imagineNATIVE’s Programming Team since 2002.