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Film still from Sweet Country| Image source:

This 2017 ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival was nothing short of exciting with screenings like the innovative opening dramatic feature, Waru to the compelling one hour documentary Indictment: The Crimes of Shelley Chartier. The festival didn’t stop with movies, there were many compelling art and VR installations, panels and workshops to take in. Revolutions Per Minute partnered with the festival to bring us The Beat on Saturday night featuring many talented musicians, including DJ Kookum and Mob Bounce. Sunday marked the end of festivities with their awards presentation and closing night gala. MUSKRAT Magazine congratulates those whose works we hope to see again in the near future!

Tina Keeper (Cree)
The August Schellenberg Award of Excellence

Keeper’s lengthy acting and producing career spans from her time starring as RCMP officer, Michelle Kenid in North of 60 in the early 90’s to producing the APTN series, Cashing In, a show that follows the life of a casino “gaming palace” owner. She has also dabbled in politics for sometime with the Liberal Party, representing Churchill, Manitoba and produced Going Home Star, the ballet tribute to residential school survivors. Earlier this year she won the 2017 Woman of the Year Award, presented by ACTRA (Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists).

Sweet Country, Directed by Warwick Thornton (Aboriginal Australian)
Best Dramatic Feature

Director, Screenwriter and Cinematographer Warwick Thornton is best known for his work on Samson & Delilah (2009), The Turning (2013) and The Sapphires (2012). His newest project Sweet Country, has been screened all over the world at festivals in Japan, Venice and now Toronto for both TIFF and ImagineNATIVE. The film is set in the 1920’s and follows the story of an aged Aboriginal farmhand who is on the run from a group of fanatical white settlers looking to hunting him down.

Indictment: The True Crimes of Shelley Chartier won for Best Documentary Work.| Image source:

Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier, Directors: Shane Belcourt (Metis) & Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe)
The Alanis Obomsawin Award for Best Documentary Work (Long-Form)

Award-winning directors, Belcourt and Jackson have added another award to their list. Shane has made a name for himself with movies that explore Indigenous life experiences since his directorial debut, Tkaronto in 2007. Lisa’s focus is mainly on documentarian work and has just expanded into fiction with much success of her first short film Savage, which won a Genie Award for Best Short Film in 2010. Indictment: The Crimes of Shelley Chartier digs deeper into the life of a reclusive Indigenous woman whose international catfish scheme garnered salacious coverage in the media. The documentary reveals the story of a young Indigenous woman on a redemption journey, who is dealing with life circumstances beyond her control.

Special Mention: Birth of a Family, Directed by Tasha Hubbard

Three Thousand by Asinnajaq (Isabella-Rose Weetaluktuk) Inuit
The Kent Monkman Award for Best Experimental Work

Up and coming Montreal based artist Asinnajaq uses her art to explore her roots as an Inuit, to deepen her understanding of her people’s history with the use of Inuit designs from the qulliq to the igluvigak. In Three Thousand she weaves together archival footage from the National Film Board of Canada with her distinctive original style of animation.

Up and coming Inuit artist, Asinnajaq
Up and coming Inuit artist, Asinnajaq

RAE Directed by Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk)
The Ellen Monague Award for Best Youth Work

Jacobs acting career catapulted after starring in Rhymes for Young Ghouls in 2013. Since then she has recently made her directorial debut with Stolen in 2016. This year she was awarded Birks Diamond Tribute to Women in Film at TIFF and was featured in the Hollywood Reporter as a rising star. RAE follows the story of a seven year old girl, Rae, on her birthday. As the day goes on Rae has the task of confronting her mother’s mental illness as the roles of mother and daughter get reversed.

Bowhead Whale Hunting With My Ancestors Directors Carol Kunnuk & Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit)
Best Indigenous Language Work

Acclaimed Inuk filmmaker Zacharias Kunuk is a leader in Canadian cinema with renowned films such as Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner and last year’s Searchers. Carol Kunnuk is an actress, director and producer who has worked closely with the Inuit Broadcasting Corporation of Nunavut. Her directorial debut was the documentary film Queen of the Quest about Denise Malliki, the first woman to compete and win the “Nunavut Quest” dog team race. Bowhead Whale Hunting With My Ancestors gives insight into the excitement around the traditional and ceremonial bowhead whale hunt.

Kayak to Klemtu Zoe Hopkins (Heiltsuk/Mohawk)
Audience Choice Award

This is Hopkins directorial debut. She got her start in film starring in Black Robe in 1991 when she was 15 years old before getting a BAA in film studies at Ryerson University. Kayak to Klemtu follows the story of a young girl who goes on a kayak journey to honour her deceased Uncle, an anti-pipeline activist in BC.

Scene from Rae | Image source:
Scene from Rae | Image source:
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About The Author

Erica Commanda

Born in Toronto, Erica Commanda (Algonquin/Ojibwe) grew up in the small community of Pikwakanagan. From there she moved across Canada living in Ottawa, Vancouver and now Toronto, working in the bar/hospitality industry, mastering the art of listening to stories from her regulars while slinging and spilling drinks (at them or to them). And now through a series of random decisions and events in life she is on a journey discovering and mastering her own knack for storytelling as Associate Editor for MUSKRAT Magazine.

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