October 15, 2013
For the 14th year, the Toronto based imagineNATIVE festival aims to bring the best in aboriginal and indigenous made filmmaking, arts, new media, and culture to audiences who might not see it otherwise, as well as to local galleries, cinemas, and venues who don’t book such productions nearly enough given the clearly massive range of output from these communities and cultures worldwide.
imagineNATIVE is shaping up to have a banner year. In addition to the several films we cover here, we’ll also be looking at some of the new media and even gaming options that will be made available to festival attendees from October 16th to the 20th. Even the line-up of films this year (the festival’s main attraction) include a variety of heavy hitters that have been gaining notoriety over the past several months. Making a return engagement from Hot Docs earlier this year is Michelle Latimer’s hip-hop documentary Alias (Friday, October 18th, 4:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox). Coming fresh from TIFF are Peter Stebbings’ Empire of Dirt (Saturday, October 19th, 9:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox), Alanis Obomsawin’s documentary Hi-Ho Mistahey! (Saturday, October 19th, 4:30pm, TIFF Bell Lightbox), and Jeff Barnaby’s heavily buzzed about (and now VIFF award winning) debut feature Rhymes for Young Ghouls (Friday, October 18th, 9:00pm)
Stay tuned throughout the week as we continue to bring you more great coverage from this year’s festival, but in the meantime, here’s a look at five of the features we’ve had a chance to watch so far. For more information, tickets, and a full list of programming, check out the imagineNATIVE website.
A subdued and mournful Aussie detective flick, Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road (which also played at TIFF last month) takes a quiet, terse, reflective, and refreshingly no-bullshit approach to creating a tense procedural with a main detective caught between a job that doesn’t want him and the world he left behind.
Detective Jay Swan (a rugged and smouldering Aaron Pendersen) returns to his aboriginal hometown in the outback, assigned to a case of a troubled young woman found murdered in a drainage run off along a trucking route. The locals in his drug and crime ridden former hood are either resentful that Swan has returned (referred to derogatorily referred to as a “black tracker” for constantly hunting his own people), and his co-workers on the force seem to be doing everything in their power to keep him away from the truth in a larger cover-up.
Sen’s approach is unorthodox for this kind of film, but not ineffective. The characters around Swan are largely ciphers, but the film is so well written, acted, and directed that it doesn’t matter. Most of the tension comes from quiet moments told visually rather than narratively, and from a lot of the often unspoken racism that permeates a town with bigger problems than just this one murder. Hugo Weaving pops up as the shady Narc trying to keep Swan subtly and often diplomatically at bay, and Ryan Kwanten appears as a racist good-ol’-boy and person of interest, but while they’re great the film belongs to Penderson and his impressive grasp on the material. Not once does the audience suspect their hero is fooled by anyone around him, but that he’s playing it cool and waiting for the right moment. It’s a hard approach to pull off, but Sen and Penderson nail it nicely. (Andrew Parker)
Wednesday, October 16th, Bloor Hot Docs Cinema, 7:00pm
– See more at: http://dorkshelf.com/2013/10/15/imaginenative-at-a-glance/#sthash.7FuyZWLZ.dpuf