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NFB and imagineNative are looking for Indigenous creators

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Detailed view of the "Glwa", Heiltsuk canoe, at the Qatuwas Festival, an international gathering of maritime indigenous nations of the Pacific Rim. Photo: United Nations Photo/John Isaac/Flickr

Today there's another news article about the cultural appropriation of Indigenous peoples' stories. Quebec theatre director Robert Lepage is launching his newest production, Kanata -- effectively an accounting of the treatment of Indigenous peoples living in Canada by settlers. However, not one of the 34 actors are Indigenous.

This is reminiscent of the Royal Winnipeg ballet's production, Going Home, chronicling the aftermath of residential school life. Not only did that production fail to include a single Indigenous dancer, but it was based on a story by the controversial novelist Joseph Boyden with music composed by Greek-Canadian Christos Hatzis.

And, how about master storyteller and Canadian conservation pioneer Grey Owl or should I call him by his real English name, Archibald Stansfeld, who, according to the publishers of his collected works, "is heralded as a great Native Canadian who used Native storytelling as a vehicle for environmental activism and awareness." Once more, not his story to own and tell.

Instead of going on ad infinitum, let's move on to an honest remedy for this ridiculous habit settlers have of telling the stories of others. The National Film Board (NFB) and imagineNative are looking for daring, innovative proposals from Indigenous creators.

On July 19 these collaborators will be hosting a Facebook Live panel and information session for all NFB/imagineNATIVE Digital Project Prize applicants. This is short notice but will be time well spent for those interested in making submissions before the August 30, 2018 deadline.

Applicants can use this new resource to help them put together the best possible pitch. The Facebook Live discussion on July 19 will offer valuable insights and tips on how to apply for the sixth edition of this exceptional program for Indigenous creators.

The NFB/imagineNative partnership has resulted in works that have been programmed nationally and internationally, including at the Venice Biennale in Italy and Berlinale Forum in Berlin.

Taking place on Facebook (hashtag #iN19) from 4 to 5 p.m. EDT, the conversation will feature past winners of the Digital Project Prize including Ahnahktsipiitaa (untitled), Cara Mumford (Red Card), Tyler Hagan (Similkameen Crossroads) and Jordan Bennett (Ice Fishing).

The panel will be moderated by Dana Dansereau (NFB Producer, Digital Studio) and Meagan Byrne (Digital + Interactive Coordinator, imagineNATIVE), who will also provide an overview of the Interactive Partnership and the submissions process. Viewers are invited to ask questions.

The NFB and imagineNATIVE selection committee is looking for proposals that offer culturally, creatively and technologically daring visions, with a focus on innovative experiences for any digital media -- including but not limited to mobile phones, social media, virtual reality, and augmented reality, as well as any other new media format.

Domestic or international Indigenous artists with Canadian citizenship, working with the NFB Digital Studio in Vancouver, will develop the winning project over the course of one year, starting in October 2018.

The NFB Digital Studio will have the option to produce or co-produce the project, with a target launch date of October 2019 at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. The budget for the development phase will consist of cash and in-kind support of up to $50,000, while the final budget for the production phase will be determined by the overall scope of the project.

The selected artist and proposal will be announced at the 2018 imagineNATIVE festival's new iNdigital space at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Applications will be accepted as of July 19, 2018, at www.imaginenative.org, with a submission deadline of August 30, 2018.

Please take advantage of this hand-up to help create your best possible submission pitch. My one ask: let me know when your amazing creation is going to be aired so that I can buy tickets, tune in, try to figure out how to get it on my phone, and just enjoy a culturally authentic Indigenous work.

Good luck!

Photo: United Nations Photo/John Isaac/Flickr

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