Programming announced for Toronto’s imagineNATIVE film festival

Thursday, September 21st, 2023 7:59am


Image Caption

imagineNATIVE festival director Lindsay Monture and Cody Lightning, director and star of the mockumentary Hey, Vickor!


“I’m really looking forward to coming back into this circle of film industry leaders and artists” — imagineNATIVE festival director Lindsay Monture
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There are still a few weeks to go before imagineNATIVE, the world’s largest Indigenous film festival, kicks off in Toronto.

But attendees now know what they can expect at the 24th imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, which runs in person from Oct. 17 to Oct. 22. The festival then heads online from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29.

A news conference was held Sept. 15 to announce the programming. It will include 14 feature films, 70 short films, 21 digital and interactive works and 17 audio works.

“I’m just really excited about the programming overall,” said festival director Lindsay Monture.  “I think we’ve got a really strong programming team.”

For Monture, this marks her first year as festival director. She was hired for the position this past May. But she is no stranger to imagineNATIVE, having worked in various roles in her two previous stints with the festival. See our story about her appointment here:…

“I think I’m really looking forward to coming back into this circle of film industry leaders and artists,” said Monture, a member of Six Nations of the Grand River, who lives in nearby Brantford, Ont. “I’ve been away for a while so it’s nice to come back into a space that’s familiar here.”

Before being picked to be the festival director, Monture last worked for imagineNATIVE in 2017 as a tour co-ordinator.

Monture had some high-profile assistance choosing which films to include in the festival—Adam Piron, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Madeleine Hakariaia de Young.

Piron is the director for the Indigenous program for the Sundance Institute located in Utah.

Tailfeathers is an actor, filmmaker and producer and member of Kainai Nation in Alberta. And de Young is the festival director for New Zealand’s Maoriland Film Festival, the largest presenter of Indigenous screen content in the southern hemisphere.

“We all worked together to build up the programs,” Monture said. “And for me, these people are just people I know in the industry and are very experienced, have a long relationship with imagineNATIVE over the years. I just knew they could bring multi-faceted perspectives to Indigenous stories and filmmaking.”

Monture and her programming assistants selected Fancy Dance as the festival’s opening-night feature film this year. The film marks the directorial debut for Erica Tremblay from Missouri who is of Seneca and Cayuga ancestry. Tremblay now lives in New York City.

Tremblay’s 90-minute film features a woman named Jax, played by Lily Gladstone, who is searching for her missing sister. Jax is also taking care of her niece Roki, played by Isabel Deroy-Olson, while her mother is missing.

Fancy Dance, which was created to raise awareness of missing and murdered Indigenous women, had its world premiere earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

A mockumentary titled Hey, Viktor!, will be imagineNATIVE’s closing-night feature film.

Hey, Viktor! is the directorial debut for Cody Lightning, who is a member of Samson Cree Nation in Alberta.

Lightning, an actor who achieved attention as a child with his role in the much beloved 1998 film Smoke Signals, played a young Victor Joseph in that movie.
Hey, Vickor! is Lightning’s hilarious look at how life has treated him since then and his attempt to once again seek recognition in the movie industry.

Information on imagineNATIVE tickets and other events included in the festival is available at

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.