The 24th ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival offers no shortage of fabulous screen content produced by indigenous creators. Celebrating the work of indigenous filmmakers from around the world, this annual event showcases feature films and docs. ImagineNATIVE includss a variety of fabulous short films. Because we’re fans of short films that leave a big impression, here’s a roundup of some – and only some – of the shorts we loved at this year’s festival!
1.Heart Like a Pow Wow (Dir. Chief Lady Bird)
Directed and animated by the innovative artist Chief Lady Bird and narrated by its writer, Tara Williamson, Heart Like a Pow Wow explores themes of loss and love from an Anishinaabe perspective. This animated short was so mesmerizing that I rewatched it immediately. While three-hour films can be great, texts like Heart Like a Pow Wow prove cinema doesn’t have to be lengthy to provide a profound experience.
2. Home (Dir. Barry Bilinksy)
When the apocalypse comes to the Kikino Metis Settlement, a group of youth survive by sheltering in a bunker. The surviving teens include members of a local baseball team and Kit Kat Thompson, a social media influencer. Soon, rifts form as the group must decide who should lead them – and how to proceed with life – now that their titular Home is changed forever.
3. Headdress (Dir. Taietsarón:sere ‘Tai’ Leclaire)
Tai is meant to be enjoying a music festival when he spies a white woman in a headdress. His friends ask him if he wants to confront the woman, and that’s when the action heads inside Tai’s mind for an internal debate about how to proceed. The outspoken and fearless “Goth Tai” (a holdover from his youth) wants to take a hardcore stand, while other identities, like “Bougie Tai,” aren’t so sure. Leclaire, who is also a comedian, is a talented filmmaker and definitely one to watch out for! Ultimately, Headdress is a tight and entertaining meditation on cultural appropriation, and the psychological toll of deciding when and how to address racism.
4. Camping (Derek Quick)
Camping is an emotionally resonant story about a working mother who is unable to secure housing for herself and her imaginative young daughter. The film shines a spotlight on the housing crisis and the fact that women are 35% more likely to end up in poverty than men. As topical as Camping is, its greatest strength is Raven Miles’ subtle and heartbreaking performance as a parent doing everything she can to keep her daughter safe. Bring tissues, because it is impossible not to weep in this beautiful and necessary short.
5. Aykuo (Dir. Ayaal Adamov)
After a young woman’s sister dies, she returns to her childhood home in rural Yakut. The film feels like a dream sequence at times, with its protagonist singing her dialogue as she processes complicated – often painful – memories of love and loss. Experimental and bold, Aykuo leaves an indelible impression.