VIMAF 2011 Revitalizes Indigenous Media Arts in Vancouver

The Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival held its inaugural celebration November 10-13 to resounding success—and RPM was there. Here’s our exclusive recap of VIMAF 2011.

Vancouver has not hosted an Indigenous film or media festival in almost half a decade, but on November 10th, the Vancouver Indigenous Media Arts Festival returned native media to its rightful place of revived strength and pride in our community.

VIMAF held its opening gala and the celebration on Thursday, November 10th and continued throughout the long weekend with a series of media arts events, film screenings, music, workshops, art exhibits and discussions.

Thursday November 10th

The Opening Gala was held at the W2 Media Cafe to a great turnout of Vancouver community members. The evening included a presentation of the Inaugural VIMAF Lifetime Achievement Award to Cree hip-hop photographer, author, artist and activist Ernie Paniccioli, who was also present during the festivities.

The evening then moved into the film program which included Shi-Shi-Etko a short film directed by Kate Kroll and starring Coast Salish R&B musician Inez and the young singing sensation Ta’Kaiya Blaney, Anirniq directed byt RJ Sauer and Tungijuq which is a musical look at a mystical seal hunt starring Tanya Tagaq. The feature film of the evening was Grab, which takes an intimate look at “Grab Day” in the Laguna Pueblo tribe.

Friday, November 11th

Friday began with “Decolonize Yourself” programming, which included Canyon War: The Untold Story written by Kevin Loring, Columbus Day Legacy, Bloodland, Warchild, Indian, Overburden, Two Scoops, Zwei Indianer Aus Winnipeg and Empty by Jackie Traverse. Following were some words from filmmakers Kevin Loring, Cowboy Smithx and Elle-Maija Tailfeathers as well as an address from Frank and Telkwa, the elders visiting from the Occupy Vancouver site.

The Raw Sugar program included various music pieces like Woodcarver by Bear Witness of A Tribe Called RedNaqs Asil Katlis by Bracken Hanuse Corlett, Savage by Lisa Jackson and the feature of the program Music Is The Medicine, the new documentary about Derek Miller, which made its west coast premiere that night—and which we’ve featured in our latest episode of the RPM Podcast EP#011 – “Music is the Medicine”.

“The Other Side of Hip-Hop” was the next program that included the Ernie Paniccioli biopic film of the same name The Other Side Of Hip-Hop: The Sixth Element which was followed by some words of wisdom from the man himself. The nearby Catalog Gallery also held a special three day exhibition of Paniccioli’s photographs.


Next up, all of us here at RPM.fm were pleased to curate and present an Indigenous Music Video Program that included the premiere of the new Cris Derksen video directed by Cowboy Smithx for her song 2 Hour Parking. After that was the Late Night music program which included a performance by Ostwelve, Csetkwe, DJ Deano and visuals by Bracken Hanuse Corlett.

Saturday, November 12th

Saturday was another full day of panel discussions and films for VIMAF. The evening program included a night of features hosted by acclaimed Cree actor Tantoo Cardinal. The films included Up Heartbreak Hill directed by Erica Scharf, Barking Water by Sterlin Harjo and the thriller On The Ice which made it’s last festival appearance at VIMAF before going to distribution.

Sunday, November 13th

The final day of the festival opened with daytime children’s programming including Tansi! Nehiyawetan’s Powwow Episode and the new feature length film of Wapos Bay: Long Goodbyes. After that followed a program of National Film Board films including Six Miles Deep and Totem: Return and Renewal.

The evening concluded with Slay Dogs by Kwakwee Baker, Higher Ground by Karen Bardach and the closing feature film Two Indians Talking starring Nathaniel Arcand and Justin Rain who was in attendance for the screening and a following question period.

VIMAF saw great support in its inaugural year, with visits from many of the communities dignitaries and artists featured in the festival lineup, making, the festival a welcoming and inspiring place to be throughout the weekend.

Thanks to all the sponsors, artists, volunteers and community  supporters for making this festival a success. We look forward to another year of revitalized Indigenous media arts in Vancouver in 2012.