imagineNATIVE 2012: Indigenous Film, Music and Media Arts Take Centre Stage


Since its inception in 1998, Toronto’s imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival has grown to be the largest festival of Indigenous film and media arts in the world. The annual celebration was held October 17-21, 2012. Melody McKiver was the grateful recipient of a delegate pass for Indigenous musicians sponsored by Slaight Music. Here’s her exclusive festival recap for RPM.

DAY ONE: Wednesday October 17th

I last attended the festival when I lived in Toronto in 2009. Returning home to see that most imagineNATIVE screenings and workshops are now held in the TIFF Lightbox (Toronto International Film Festival) is a welcome development, and a testament to the major impact this festival has made on the international film, media, and Indigenous arts communities.


The sole film screening held off-site was Wednesday’s opening gala and world premiere of The People of the Kattawapiskak River. Acclaimed Indigenous filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, along with many community members from Attawapiskat First Nation including Chief Theresa Spence, were present, and received standing ovations following the film. Preceding the main feature was Christmas at Moose Factory, Alanis Obomsawin’s 1971 debut film. Despite the 41-year gap between the two films, both share a gentle portrayal of the realities of life in remote Northeastern Ontario and a focus on Omushkego (Swampy Cree) youth. Obomsawin was on the ground in Attawapiskat as news of the community’s state of emergency went viral in late-2011. As mainstream media coverage quickly devolved into factually inaccurate stereotypical reporting, Obomsawin masterfully took vitriolic commentary from Sun Media conservative ideologue Ezra Levant, and presented community members’ responses to his unfounded accusations.

The film began with the community at the peak of the housing crisis, then showed community members celebrating newly-built housing six months later, and concluded with the court case that absolved Attawapiskat First Nation of any financial misdoings—and illustrating the callousness of the federal government’s response to the crisis.


Following the film, imagineNATIVE provided buses to an after-party that offered a happy reunion for many members of the Indigenous arts community. RPM and festival favourite, DJ Bear Witness (of A Tribe Called Red), spun a wide range of reggaeton, Latin, reggae, hip-hop, and his own powwowstep. At 80 years young, Alanis Obomsawin showed off her spirit and vitality by owning the dance floor late into the night.

The party was also an appropriate send-off for DJ Bear Witness, who was set to meet his ATCR brothers at the Toronto airport less than 12 hours later to fly out to perform at the WOMEX Festival in Thessalakoni, Greece.

DAY TWO: Thursday, October 18th


I began my day at the Music in Film & TV: A Guide for Filmmakers and Musicians industry panel, where a diverse and accomplished roster of panelists were invited: Brent Bain of FACTOR; Elizabeth Klinck of E Klinck Research; Paul Stillo of SOCAN; Jeremy von Hollen of Instinct Entertainment, and RPM favourite cellist/composer, Cris Derksen. The audience was filled with film, music, and dance professionals, culminating in a lively question period. For my own soundtrack work, the workshop was more than worthwhile, answering some long outstanding questions I’ve had regarding the nuances of licensing new recordings of existing songs.


With a slight overlap between the end of the industry panel and the beginning of the Unsettling Sex screenings assembled by Chickasaw artist and curator John G. Hampton, I snuck into the movie theater. Although I missed the screening of Dance to Miss Chief by Cree Two-Spirited iconoclast Kent Monkman, I recently saw the piece in a gallery and can testify that his mash-up of disco and powwow music is well worth a listen for powwowstep fans.

Dear Diary and Target Girls by Cree/Ojibway/Roma/Jewish filmmaker and video artist Ariel Smith lacked dialogue, but paired score and sound design by Ottawa band Crush Buildings with vivid black and white imagery. ‘Unsettling’ was an apt description for Target Girls especially: the cinematography was reminiscent of German expressionism, while the soundtrack was reminiscent of 1950’s bubblegum American pop with decidedly un-bubblegum lyrics.

Also featured in Unsettling Sex was Mars-Womb-Man and I am the art scene starring Woman Polanski by Cree/Métis artist James Diamond and About Town by Métis filmmaker, writer, and artist Marnie Parrell. The screenings were shorter than usual in order to give curator John G. Hampton time to read his paper on the series. His written work draws heavily on recent developments in Queer Indigenous studies, while also emphasizing that the films screened should not be essentialized to any single descriptor of queer, Indigenous, sexuality, or feminism.


When not at the TIFF Lightbox, many imagineNATIVE attendees could be found nearby at the 401 Richmond artist complex, which houses a number of small galleries, while others found their way to exhibitions and artist talks including: Concealed Geographies: New Media Exhibition featuring the works of KC Adams, Jason Baerg, Merritt Johnson, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Justine McGrath and Nigit’stil Norbert, De Nort: New Media Exhibition by the ITWÉ Collective of Kevin Lee Burton, Caroline Monnet, and Sébastien Aubin, and Wbomsawinno: Les estampes de/ The Prints of Alanis Obomsawin.


I made my way to RESONATE - Indigenous Youth Showcase, where a variety of print media and video art was on display by youth artists Nishka Turner, Leslie McCue (Ojibway), Asivak Koostachin (Cree), Cecily Jacko (Ojibway), Kyle Burton, Jared Robilliard (Dene), Damien Bouchard, Cheyenne Scott (Coast Salish), Nigel Irwin-Brochmann, Emily Jones, Alice Thompson and Alana Mcleod. A reception complete with frybread followed that emphasized the tight-knit nature of the community and everyone from newborns to kookums were in attendance.


That evening, I made the difficult choice to break from imagineNATIVE to catch the wrap party of the 5th annual Indigenous Writers’ Gathering and launch of MUSKRAT Magazine, where I caught up with Cree cellist Cris Derksen, who wowed the crowd with recent material not heard on her album or 8th Fire soundtrack, along with some older favourites. An all-star lineup of Indigenous writers, including Lee Maracle, Richard Wagamese, and Marilyn Dumont read from their work. Daniel Heath Justice’s (Cherokee) new poem, which dealt with lies told about Indigenous people, was a personal stand-out, as its unflinching honesty and emotional intensity were reminiscent of Ryan Redcorn’s acclaimed poem Bad Indians. And, of course, event hosts Sid Bobb and Wab Kinew kept the crowd entertained throughout the night.

DAY THREE: Friday, October 19th


On Friday I caught two documentaries that were part of an International Spotlight on the Mapuche Nation I. Each year at imagineNATIVE an Indigenous nation from around the globe is featured, and this year’s invited guests were representatives of the Mapuche Nation from what is also known as Chile. Indigenous resistance to colonialism, capitalism, dispossession of land, and loss of language were recurring themes in the two documentaries screened, En El Nombre del Progresso (In the Name of Progress), and Wallmapu - but also a profound resilience and fierce pride in their culture and nation. I would revisit these themes later in the evening, when I performed as part of the afterparty for the Mapuche delegation.


Immediately after the International Spotlight screening I saw the Turning Points: Shorts Program I. Showcasing a wide variety of creative projects, shorts programs are my favourite parts of film festival programming, but they often force you to make difficult viewing choices. Plus, I knew I would have to run to soundcheck midway through the program. But the opening film, Throat Song, directed by Miranda de Pencier, was a standout. Set in Iqaluit, the 18-minute film follows a young Inuk woman as she seeks an escape from an abusive relationship. The acting and the technical production were superb and throat singing, as the title suggests, played a major part in the film’s soundtrack and sound design. This incredible form of singing propelled the action through dreamy sequences of running and hunting across the tundra that owed much to Zacharias Kunnuk’s groundbreaking work in Antanajuarat: The Fast Runner.


As I ran out early to set up my drums for soundcheck at The Central, I was honoured to participate in the celebration of the Mapuche Nation and perform under their flag. The evening began with a selection of hip-hop and heavy metal music videos curated by director Danko Mariman, whose En El Nombre del Progress (In the Name of Progress) screened earlier in the day. The feature of the screenings was the 2008 film Cortometraje “Che Üñum, Genta Pájaro”, a 22 minute short by Mapuche video artist Francisco Huichaqueo ( The dreamy film opened with a quote which, in English translation, read “When somebody has to move, he has to start all over again and open his eyes and look another way”. Movement was an ongoing theme, with a number of the performers, wearing helmets that suggest the mandibles of ants, engaging in near-impossible displays of parkour throughout the urban landscape of Santiago, Chile. The third movement was particularly mesmerizing, with the introduction of the song Anarky Plastic by Mario Z propelling the action forward and building the sound design from the first two movements to incorporate traditional Mapuche horns. The shift to electronic music in the final movement suggests that this contemporary mix of electronic and Indigenous sonic aesthetics is truly an emerging global sound (as we explored in RPM’s Electric Pow Wow podcast - which included artists Cris Derksen and Bear Witness, who also performed during this year’s imagineNATIVE).


Following the film screenings, live music took the stage. Toronto-based Mapuche MC La Bomba opened things up with her reggae-influenced band, Amazonica Sound Force. All of the band’s members are veterans of the hip-hop en espanol and reggae communities, and performed a tightly polished set. ASF were a tough act to follow, but my band Red Slam Collective took the stage. Red Slam represents a diverse number of Indigenous nations from across Northeastern Turtle Island and our brand of live hip-hop draws from a diverse set of influences including reggae, hand drum songs, spoken word, and funk. It was a true pleasure to play in front of such an inspiring Indigenous audience.

DAY FOUR: Saturday, October 20th


On Saturday the International Spotlight on the Mapuche Nation continued with more documentaries. First up was the North American premiere of Francisco Huichaqueo’s 2012 film Kalül (Reuniôn de Cuerpo / Reunion of the Body) which brought his dreamy cinematographic style, as seen in the previous night’s Cortometraje “Che Üñum, Genta Pájaro”, to document a Mapuche performance art intervention in a shopping mall in Santiago. This was followed by the international premiere of Diez Veces Venceremos (We Shall Overcome Ten Times) by director Cristian Jure. Diez follows the political exile Pascual Pichún, as he attempts to return from his journalism studies in Argentina to his Mapuche homelands in occupied Chile. The title of the film is drawn from a protest song often sung by Pascual and his supporters. Protest songs are an integral part of the narrative of the film, sung by Pascual in exile in Argentina, and by his supporters in his home community.


The Beat is a hotly anticipated part of imagineNATIVE that shifts the festival’s focus from film to music for a Saturday night celebration. Demonstrating the strong connection between film and music, each year The Beat opens with a collection of the past year’s best Indigenous music videos.

This year’s line-up represented Indigenous nations from around the globe, including: This Is My Time Everyday directed by Michelle Latimer, Leivänmuruseni (Breadcrumbs) directed by Oskari Sipola, Ghost House directed by Zoe Hopkins, Mr. Milkman directed by Laura Milliken, Dirty Games directed by James Kinistino, My Blood My People directed by Martin Leroy Adams, and Waardeur directed by Eugene Hendriks. I was proud to contribute drum tracks to this year’s Best Music Video, Sides directed by Mosha Folger, an Ottawa-based Inuk writer, performer, playwright, and member of the Counterfeit Nobles.

Nick Sherman (Ojibway) opened up the evening’s live music component with a commanding solo set. The Sioux Lookout-based singer-songwriter performed seated on his suitcase, which doubled as a bass drum. For the final portion of Nick’s set, he invited up the visual artist and musician Arthur Renwick (Haisla). The two men had only recently began playing together at the Ontario Council of Folk Festivals a few weeks ago, but impart a familiarity that I hope will lead to many future collaborations.

George Leach (Sta’atl’imx) was the evening’s headliner, performing a mix of old favourites and new tracks from his eagerly anticipated new release, Surrender. Audiences at The Beat got a chance to purchase copies of the new album prior to the official release, and I can confirm that it sounds as great as his live set. George Leach and his band pumped up the mood in the room, switching gears from the quiet reverence of Nick Sherman’s set to a full-on Saturday night rock’n’roll party.

They played a high-energy set, proving that nobody in Indian Country rocks a double-necked Gibson SG quite like George Leach.

DAY FIVE: Sunday, October 21st


On Sunday, I made my way to the closing night gala screening of The Lesser Blessed directed by Anita Doron and based on the Richard Van Camp (Dogrib) novel of the same name. Shot in Sudbury but based in the Northwest Territories, the film was gorgeously rendered and scored. The film’s protagonist Larry Sole, a Tlicho youth played by Joel Evans in a stellar acting debut, comes to terms with his traumatic past as he deals with high school bullies. The film premiered earlier this year at the Toronto International Film Festival, and is well worth seeing as it screens more widely.

The 13th annual imagineNATIVE Indigenous Film & Media Arts Festival wrapped up with an awards gala at The Mod Club hosted by actor Billy Merasty, who donned this year’s circus theme and put on his top hat as the ringmaster. The crowd was tired but happy after a week jam-packed with festival events and networking that always ran well into the night.

To take part in the festival as a musician truly demonstrated to me how interconnected Indigenous arts practices are: what’s a film without a soundtrack, or a musician’s single without a music video?

At the end of the festival, my only regret is that I can’t go back and catch everything I missed the first time around. Aho!


Melody McKiver is an Anishinaabe musician, media artist and researcher who splits her time between Ottawa and Toronto. She is currently completing an MA in Ethnomusicology at Memorial University where her research interests include Indigenous electronic music, artistic processes of decolonization, urban Indigeneity, and Two-Spirited studies. For more on Melody's work, follow her on Twitter @m_melody or visit

DOWNLOAD: Lena Recollet - "Personal Power"


Anishnaabe poet, actress, vocalist and visual artist Lena Recollet, from Wikwemikong, Ontario, on Manitoulin Island, released her first EP this year - Soul Speaking. A poetry film of the track Historical Landmark premiered at the 2011 imagineNATIVE festival and Lena opened for Buffy Sainte Marie that same week. This is our favourite track from Lena, a spoken word piece about finding her own Personal Power. Be inspired. DOWNLOAD: Lena Recollet - "Personal Power"

RPM at imagineNATIVE 2011


Last week, RPM was in attendance at the 2011 imagineNATIVE festival in Toronto, Ontario. It was five days filled with inspiring, moving, and important films, and equally inspiring and exciting connections with community.

For a festival celebrating Indigenous film and new media there was plenty of Indigenous music, and musicians, on site, screen and stage.

The opening night party brought A Tribe Called Red to get everyone on the dance floor; the experimental short film program included Make Your Escape - an audiovisual mash-up directed by Bear Witness of ATCR, and Jesus Coyote TeeVee by multi-disceplenary artist Chris Bose; and Friday night the festival presented a panel discussion with Buffy Sainte-Marie hosted by Wab Kinew.

Sunday was the premiere screening of Music is the Medicine, something we've been looking forward to and talking about here at RPM for some time. Derek Miller was in attendance, along with producers Jody Hill and Rod Ruel, and it was thrilling to see the documentary on the big screen. A number of Derek Miller fans were there, cheering throughout the film and grabbing signatures and photos from Derek afterwards. Here's Derek, Jody and Rod stopping for the cameras on the way into the theatre:

It was a celebratory vibe in the theatre and we were glad to be there to say a few words before the film - the last few of which were congratulations to the filmmakers, and to Derek, and we're so glad to be connected to the project.

The sense of community throughout the festival was ever present and there wasn't a bad film in the bunch. Thank you, and congratulations also, to imagineNATIVE for pulling off such a remarkable event - we'll be back next year!

In Discussion with Buffy Sainte-Marie at imagineNATIVE 2011


At last week's imagineNATIVE film and new media festival, a panel discussion was presented with Indigenous icon Buffy Sainte Marie. Hosted by Wab Kinew, Buffy shared her thoughts on publishing copyright, how to stay healthy on the road, an upcoming biography, and just where Indigenous people come from. 

The lineup outside the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre was long, winding and full of excitement. Buffy Sainte Marie is an inspiration, a role model, and a much loved artist by so many. The opportunity to listen to this incredible woman talk had everyone buzzing with anticipation. Thanks to some technical difficulties, entry was delayed - in fact further technical difficulties with the video playback and the mics plagued the one hour discussion - but it wasn't enough to even budge the happy mood of the crowd.

Seeing Buffy in person, especially rocking those signature high heels, challenges any preconceived notion of what a woman of 70 might look like. Buffy is gorgeous, she seems to dance when she walks, and it is impossible not to be drawn into her grounded presence. She flopped down next to Wab with such comfortable ease, she could have been getting ready to watch tv in her pjs.

Wab started the discussion wondering how she is still managing to tour at this point in her career, ie how does she do it? Buffy and her band have been on the road for the better part of the past two years, bringing their powwow rock to destinations around the world - a potentially draining endeavor for any musician, much less one who has been working for the past fifty years. Buffy sites her stamina to healthy practices - she doesn't drink, she swears by starting each day with porridge (although she lamented that's harder to do in Europe), and she pursues flamenco dance lessons whenever she has the chance. She shared that after a gig she and the band will often find a place to go dancing, to release the energy of their performance and to keep her body in great shape.

As for the band, Buffy had nothing but praises for the current configuration. Two years ago she held open auditions in Winnipeg and without the specific intention ended up forming an all Indigenous group. She described how much better a song is communicated, among the musicians but also particularly to an audience, when the players have lived the experiences behind the songs. Now her drummer can play rock and he knows the round dance too!

If Buffy had any advice for other musicians, she said, it is to hold on to your publishing rights. When she wrote Universal Soldier, she sold the publishing rights for $1 not understanding what it was that she was giving away. Of course the song became famous, emblematic of the time. She's grateful for the lesson it taught her - when Elvis Presley recorded her song Until it's Time for You to Go (apparently it was his and Priscilla's song) and his "people" kept calling Buffy saying "we're going to need some of that publishing" she held firm, "no". Elvis recorded it multiple times and Buffy credits that as her most lucrative income over the years. Once she learned the importance of a writer keeping their publishing rights, she made a point of buying them back for Universal Soldier - at a cost of $25,000.

Those two songs are strong examples from Buffy's catalogue - one a love song, the other a protest song. She excels at writing both, though writing protest songs used to be more difficult than it is today. Buffy said to Jason Spencer in Buffy Sainte-Marie is where she belongs:

“We were blacklisted and our music was suppressed from the airwaves during the [Lyndon] Johnson administration,” Sainte-Marie says. “For me it went on also in the [Richard] Nixon administration because of native issues.”

While the American youth of the ’60s had a draft, today’s teenage music fans don’t see the “immediate, obvious threat,” she adds, before relating the mobilization of the student movement of the aforementioned era to our current online-centric culture.

“Coffee houses were everywhere and people were sober and exchanging opinions — it was an amazing time. … Now we have the Internet, so that’s good. But in the in-between time, we had virtually nothing but repression.”

It's fascinating to reflect on how the world has changed, and not, over the span of Buffy's career to date. It's no surprise that she has been approached many times over the years to do biographies, but she has always turned them down. She felt the rock and roll biographers would never get it right - it had to be someone who could understand her Indigenous identity and experience. Apparently, Blair Stonechild is the man for the job - Buffy revealed an authorized biography of her, by Stonechild, will be published in 2012 with exclusive insight, stories and photographs.

When it came time for questions from the audience, there were many expressions of praise and gratitude - so many people wanted to acknowledge and express how they have been touched and inspired by her work over the years. One woman asked "What keeps Buffy inspired?" Buffy expressed how lucky she feels to have traveled to so many corners of the world. Once she played a concert hall in Paris one night and a small, rural Indigenous community the next. Meeting people in communities who are fighting for their rights and freedoms, the activists and the artists of our communities - this is what keeps her fire burning.

Another question from the room came from a man, a British journalist, who said he had interviewed Buffy in 1965 at Heathrow airport. Apparently he asked her then where Indigenous people came from - while DNA studies support that all humans descended from a single African ancestor, some North American Indigenous people firmly believe that our people originate from right here on Turtle Island. He wanted to ask her again her thoughts on the subject 45 years later. Buffy surprised the audience with "I believe we are a seeded planet" and that there are others like us in the universe. I for one wasn't expecting that answer, and Wab seemed caught off guard as well - as for the British journalist, maybe he'll ask again in another 20 years.

While the conversation and questions were enlightening, surprising and charming, the highlight of the evening was when Wab asked Buffy to explain what keshagesh means. Buffy has a song No No Keshagesh and the Cree word was the name of a dog she had as a kid. "It means greedy guts" she said and described how her dog would eat all his food and then look to take food from others, "you know the type". The song, she shared, is about environmental greed and in a split second Buffy sat up from her lounging postition in the arm chair, her back straight, her feet planted on the ground, and began to recite the lyrics to the song. I'd heard them sung, but she spoke them as a poem, and in that moment the energy instantly shifted from a conversation to a performance, and the crowd shifted with her, suddenly aware that we were being given a gift, the gift that Buffy has been giving us all these years - her words and her ability to channel a focused, grounded, and powerful energy when she performs. There's nothing quite like it, and for that two minutes of the impromptu No No Keshagesh, I was transfixed, and now, a few days later, I am grateful that I was there for that moment, more than any other that night.

The imagineNATIVE festival may be one for film and new media, but they manage to successfully tie in other arts as part of their programming. The diversity is akin to the representation of Indigenous people from around the world at the festival. In Buffy Sainte-Marie lends experienced voice to indigenous issues, Buffy commented on that diversity to Tyler Hagen:

"Geographically, it's not the same. Tribally, it's not the same. Linguistically, it's not the same. But, if you see a lot of it, you start to see a true picture of who we are..."

So true. Thank you Buffy for being part of that picture.

RPM YouTube Playlist - Derek Miller


In celebration of RPM's presentation of the Music Is The Medicine documentary about Derek Miller at the imagineNATIVE Media Arts Festival, we bring you a YouTube playlist of his music videos.

On Sunday October 23rd, RPM co-presents the premiere of Music is the Medicine at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto, ON.

The revealing documentary follows critically acclaimed Mohawk blues artist Derek Miller as he strives to elevate his already esteemed career.

RPM is also giving some tickets away for the screening. Check out our post: Win 2 Tickets to the ‘Music is the Medicine’ Documentary Film Premiere

Win 2 Tickets to the 'Music is the Medicine' Documentary Film Premiere


The Derek Miller documentary film Music is the Medicine premieres at the imagineNATIVE festival next week - and RPM has two tickets to give away!

On Sunday October 23rd, RPM co-presents the premiere of Music is the Medicine at the TIFF Bell Lightbox theatre in Toronto, ON.

The revealing documentary follows critically acclaimed Mohawk blues artist Derek Miller as he strives to elevate his already esteemed career.

RPM is giving away two tickets for one lucky fan to go the screening! Here's how you can win:

Leave a comment below with the name of your favourite Derek Miller song.

That's it! On Thursday October 20, RPM will randomly draw a name for those who leave a comment and notify the winner by email.


Music is the Medicine [Official Trailer]

Music Is The Medicine Trailer from Make Believe Media on Vimeo.

Music is the Medicine: The Derek Miller Story


The upcoming documentary film Music is the Medicine is not only the story of Six Nations blues artist Derek Miller, it is in fact the origin of RPM.

Music the Medicine is about to have its world premiere at the imagineNATIVE festival in Toronto in two weeks. In celebration and support of the film, RPM will be bringing you a series of exclusive content on Derek, the film and the filmmakers, from now, through the festival premiere and up until the film airs on APTN next month.

It’s not just because we enjoy and support Derek, and it’s not just because we think it’s a great film. RPM itself was inspired by Music is the Medicine. Here’s how:

In the film, Derek talks about his experience of hitting the glass ceiling in the music industry – that being labeled as an Aboriginal artist has limited the audience his music can reach. He’s won numerous Juno awards in the Aboriginal category (and countless other music awards from Native organizations), but is snubbed by the blues and rock nods. Radio stations have not programmed his fantastic music  - songs that are backed by mainstream hard hitters Double Trouble, and even a duet with Willie Nelson – citing that they don’t have an “Aboriginal hour” in their programming. Derek has endless love, support and accolades from within the community, but why is the line drawn there?

Derek isn’t the only artist facing this kind of discrimination. Other artists find themselves locked in the same pigeonhole.

Meanwhile, a contemporary platform for Indigenous artists didn’t exist online. You couldn’t Google Indigenous music without coming to a static site flaunting a dreamcatcher or eagle feather in their logo – images not representative of all Indigenous cultures, first of all, and not representative in any way of the diverse, rich, music being made by Indigenous artists the world over.

When there isn’t a decent resource to even find Indigenous music, where does one begin to change the stereotypes held of Native music and musicians? How can we shatter those preconceived notions? How can we connect and support Indigenous artists and provide a relevant and engaging platform for listeners, artists and fans alike to get great music? Those questions were the seeds of RPM.

Initially, the producers of Music is the Medicine, Make Believe Media, launched MBM Digital to create a new media project to support the film. But as these questions and the obvious need to fill this gap in Turtle Island’s digital territory arose, MBM Digital’s brainstorming brought them to what is now – Revolutions Per Minute.

Thank goodness it did. Since RPM’s soft launch in June the response has been fantastic. We’re so glad. And we’ll be coming at you this month with the official, big splash, launch of RPM with new features and our own launch celebrations and we chose this time to coincide with Music is the Medicine’s own splash into the world, in honour our of connection and beginnings.

Watch this space for more on Music is the Medicine, Derek and RPM’s launch party!

Music Is The Medicine Trailer from Make Believe Media on Vimeo.


ImagineNATIVE Takes Flight With Air Canada


Passengers of Air Canada will get a chance to screen some of the imagineNATIVE Film Festival’s select short films in-flight up until October 31st. 

Inuit, Métis and First Nations films will be available for screening on the enRoute in-flight media players on Air Canada flights from September 1st until October 31st, 2011. This collection of films comes from the imagineNATIVE short films program in association with the imagineNATIVE Film Festival taking place October 19th – 23rd, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

The films available in the enRoute in-flight media players from imagineNATIVE are:

  • Inuit High Kick, Director: Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuit)
  • The Visit, Director: Lisa Jackson (Anishnaabe)
  • Wapawekka, Director: Danis Goulet (Métis)
  • Lumaajuuq, Director: Alethea Arnaqua-Baril (Inuit)
  • Burnt, Director: Alejandro Valbuena (Kogi)
  • Shi-shi-etko, Director: Kate Kroll, producer: Marilyn Thomas (Saulteaux/Cree)
  • Savage, Director: Lisa Jackson (Anishnaabe)
  • File Under Miscellaneous, Director: Jeff Barnaby (Mi’kmaq)

An exciting opportunity for Air Canada, Air Canada passengers, imagineNATIVE and also the film makers, this collaboration will give an opportunity for an open dialogue and platform for people to view great Indigenous film content.

Excitingly enough, also featured is director Kate Kroll's film entitled Shi-shi-etko, about a young Sto:lo girl who is about to leave her family behind to attend residential school. The film stars Coast Salish R&B superstar Inez. Also slated is another film entitled Suckerfish, directed by Lisa Jackson which features the Smoky Valley drum group is among the other great titles included in this selection. Featured in both the above mentioned films is 10-year-old singing sensation Takaya Blaney, who has been causing a buzz on YouTube with her amazing singing talents with her song Shallow Waters.

Be sure to catch some of these films if you happen to be flying with Air Canada, and if you’re in Toronto in October, be sure to check out the imagineNATIVE Film Festival at various venues around town.

Here's a trailer for Shi-shi-etko:

imagineNATIVE 2011 Offers Free Passes for Indigenous Women to Attend


Our Indigenous sisters take note: you could win a complimentary pass to attend both the 2011 imagineNATIVE festival of Indigenous media arts and the International Women in Digital Media Summit.

For those digitally-minded of our relations, this could be a great opportunity to learn, be inspired and entertained and, of course, to network.

Women in Film & Television – Toronto (WIFT-T), in partnership with the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, is pleased to provide two Indigenous women with a complimentary pass to WIFT-T’s International Women in Digital Media Summit (iWDMS), October 23-25 in Stratford, Ontario (a $525 value). The candidates selected will also receive an All-Access Pass to the 12th Annual imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, October 19-23, in downtown Toronto (a $110 value).

Featuring keynote speaker Arianna Huffington, the iWDMS will bring together traditional and digital media communities, as well as educational and research institutions, to explore innovation, content creation, emerging trends and business models, and the role of women in digital media globally. Delegates will be exposed to inspirational leadership and the latest insights from leading women and men working in digital media industries worldwide. Click here for a preview!

The complimentary passes to iWDMS include the Opening and Closing Receptions, Welcome Dinner, and lunch and breaks on both Monday and Tuesday. Travel expenses and accommodation are not included. Please note RSVPs for the receptions and dinner are mandatory. The imagineNATIVE All-Access Pass includes all imagineNATIVE film and video screenings, workshops, parties, receptions, and events.

To apply for a pass, please email Kim Haladay, WIFT-T Development Manager, at khaladay@wift.comby Monday July 25, 2011, 5PM EDT. Please attach your resume and a letter (one page max.) outlining your eligibility and interest in attending the Summit. A selection committee of WIFT-T and imagineNATIVE representatives will review the applications. The recipients will be announced in mid-August.

Further information about imagineNATIVE may be found at