imagineNATIVE programmes film, video, audio and digital & interactive media artworks works made by Canadian and international Indigenous artists (directors, producers, screenwriters, designers) of all levels of experience. In programming work for the Festival, imagineNATIVE strives to represent a diversity of ideas, themes, and genres, in addition to a diversity of Indigenous languages, nations, and cultures.

In keeping with our mandate and in support of Indigenous narrative sovereignty, imagineNATIVE’s priority and focus is to present media artworks that reflect the artistic vision of an Indigenous person while also providing a space for an Indigenous artist to have their work presented to the public. imagineNATIVE only considers works that meet the following criteria:

For Film & Video Works, including Web Series:

  1. The director is Indigenous;

  2. If the director is not Indigenous, then both the screenwriter and a key producer must be Indigenous.

  3. Joint creative positions (co-director, co-writer, co-producer) may also be considered with detailed submission requirements for creative role and decision-making involvement.

For Digital & Interactive Works (e.g. games, VR, 360):

  1. The lead designer is Indigenous;

  2. If the lead designer is not Indigenous, then both the narrative designer and lead programmer must be Indigenous;

  3. Joint creative positions (co-lead designer, co-narrative designer, co-lead programmer) may also be considered with detailed submission requirements for creative role and decision-making involvement.

For Audio Works

  1. Sound Art & Fiction Category (e.g. soundscapes, audio art, radio plays, narrative podcasts)

    1. The primary artistic role must be held by an Indigenous person;

    2. For radio plays and narrative (fiction) podcasts, the producer and writer must be Indigenous;

  2. Audio Non-Fiction Category (e.g. non-fiction podcasts, documentaries)

    1. The lead producer or host must be Indigenous.

  3. Joint creative positions may also be considered with detailed submission requirements for creative role and decision-making involvement.

All other roles -  including Executive Producer, Associate Producer, or any individual credited in an advisor or consultant role - are not eligible for consideration for any of our submission categories.

In the interests of maintaining the integrity of our mandate and mission to support Indigenous artists, imagineNATIVE reserves the right to follow up with applicants regarding eligibility.  

Through a competitive submissions and selection process, the Programming Team - through a consensus decision-making process - considers and prioritizes works that:

  • Balance unique and new perspectives expressed within the content of the work;

  • Have a cultural, artistic, and social relevance to Indigenous peoples and communities;

  • Have a creative approach to form characterized by innovative expression, distinctive style, and personal vision.

  • Innovation in representations, content, aesthetic form and genre;

  • Relevance of the piece in terms of form and content, with consideration to emerging themes and issues that present themselves during the programming process, which create an artistic framework for the overall programme.

Additional specific criteria is identified below.

imagineNATIVE supports the artistic visions and perspectives of Indigenous artists working in the media arts; thus works selected for programming do not need to have overt Indigenous content or themes, and can be productions made at all budget levels. As identified in our mission statement, imagineNATIVE is committed to a greater understanding by audiences of Indigenous peoples, cultures, and artistic expressions.

imagineNATIVE is committed to a fair and democratic selection process. All works that meet eligibility requirements detailed in our submission process are considered, short-listed, and selected by the Programming Team. The Team works with Programming Advisors who provide additional perspectives on individual titles when requested by the Programmers.

imagineNATIVE recognizes that barriers to services exist for members of Indigenous communities, particularly for equity-seeking members within these communities, and we are committed to acting as a positive force in eliminating these barriers.  To achieve this, and as stated in our equity policy, imagineNATIVE will:

  • ensure that diverse members of the Indigenous community it serves have equitable access to its services, resources and decision-making.

  • be non-discriminatory and promote the goals of anti-racism, access and equity; and,

  • take reasonable steps to ensure its services, programs and decision-making reflect the community it serves.

imagineNATIVE has instigated a Code of Conduct for all programmed artists, staff, volunteers, guests to the Festival. All artists are encouraged to read and respect the Code of Conduct.

imagineNATIVE supports the uncensored artistic visions of Indigenous artists while we also acknowledge that some of the work we present can be triggering. As part of our commitment to audience care, imagineNATIVE offers on-site Indigenous health support workers available for any individual who requests to meet with them throughout the Festival.



A premiere status of any kind is not a requirement, but may be a consideration. Due to submission volumes and the limitation of screening slots, Programmers may choose to prioritise a work by an Indigenous filmmaker that has not yet had the opportunity of a public presentation at another festival or via other media.   



All works submitted for consideration to imagineNATIVE must have a production year for the previous year and the current year. For example, works eligible for submission to the 2019 Festival must have a production year of 2018 or 2019. Works with all other production years are not eligible for submission; these works may be screened as part of retrospective or special programming as determined by the Artistic Director.



The Festival prioritizes film and video works not permanently and publicly accessible for viewing via the Internet or on S/VOD outlets such as iTunes and/or other media service providers or distribution channels. Film and video works currently available for public viewing online (paid or unpaid) are not eligible for submission.

Film and video works screened at other festivals, regardless of location, are eligible for submission. Film and video works broadcast on television outside of Canada are eligible for programming consideration. Priority may be given to works that have not yet had a festival screening in Toronto or that have already been broadcast on TV nationally in Canada, provincially in Ontario, or locally in Toronto. Due to submission volumes and the limitation of screening slots, Programmers may choose to prioritise a work by an Indigenous filmmaker that has not yet had the opportunity of a public presentation. Music Video submissions are not subject to ineligibility due to online and broadcast history.


The Festival separates audio media artworks into the general categories of Audio Art & Fiction and Audio Non-Fiction. We recognise that audio-based media artworks are broad and multi-faceted and we support the inclusion of this work in the Festival as audio remains a vital medium of communication, entertainment, and artistry for Indigenous people and communities.

The Audio Non-Fiction category encompasses works that include, but is not limited to, non-fiction podcasts, audio documentaries, non-fiction storytelling, and non-fiction audio books. News reports, extended reportage, and information programming or segments (such as PSAs) are not eligible for submission.The Audio Art & Fiction category includes, but is not limited to, soundscapes, sonic/sound art, radio plays, narrative (fiction-based storytelling), fiction audio books, and narrative (fiction-based) podcasts.

Works made for radio broadcast submitted to the Festival are considered eligible regardless of their broadcast status or availability. All productions in both categories must fall within the two-year production window required of film/video works.


Digital & interactive media works are eligible for consideration regardless of prior exhibition in galleries, presentations or via the Internet. These include artistically based work on all digital platforms (online, computer, tablet or mobile/wearable devices) that are not designed to be presented exclusively for cinema or television screens. Digital & interactive media artworks are subject to the two-year production window required of film/video works.

Digital Works are projects that have no interaction (for example 360 Video) or only as much interaction as a modern website.

Interactive Works are projects that have more interaction or player input than an average website (for example a video game, a choose-your-own-adventure video, or a VR game).


Installation works are not accepted as regular submissions, but are selected through a project-based curatorial initiative at the Festival, instigated and solicited by imagineNATIVE’s Artistic Director.


Made-for-television films and documentaries of any length are eligible for programming submission. However, consideration will be given to the domestic and international broadcast status and licensing of the works. Works that have been broadcast or have a broadcast license in Canada (which have or will have the support and opportunity to reach a public audience either locally, provincially, or nationally in advance of the Festival) are evaluated on a case-by-case basis for consideration. Television pilots that have not yet been aired prior to the Festival, and which do not have a confirmed broadcast date, are eligible for submission and programming consideration.  

Episodic television series (dramatic and documentary), news reports, extended reportage, television magazine formats, and information programming or segments (such as PSAs) are not eligible for programming (ie. screening) consideration. However, episodic television series (dramatic and documentary) led and produced by Indigenous production companies that have been aired prior to the Festival or have broadcast licenses are eligible to submit their work to the Mediatheque only. imagineNATIVE considers the format and structure of episodic television series outside the Festival’s artistic programming policy. imagineNATIVE acknowledges the creative, cultural and industrial importance of these works in the Indigenous media arts landscape. Television series eligibility into the Mediatheque allows opportunities for acquisition and presentation by international television broadcasting corporations, which supports the artistic and economic development of Indigenous television content producers and the vitality of their practice.

Music videos are eligible for submission to the Festival, regardless of their Canadian broadcast status, as music release strategies require the public release of video content outside the Festival submission timeline.


Web Series (episodic shows independent of broadcast licensing and not available online prior to the Festival in Canada) are eligible for programming inclusion into the Festival. Web series are subject to the two-year production window required of film/video works to be eligible for consideration.

PLEASE NOTE: As imagineNATIVE presents to a primarily English speaking audience, non-English language works with dialogue must have English subtitles to be eligible for programming consideration. Exception: Subtitles are not necessary if it is the artist’s intent to present the film or parts therein in the original language version without English subtitles for artistic or cultural reasons; we ask that this be specified this in the submission form.

Statement on Programming

imagineNATIVE supports the work of Indigenous media artists, including those who give their time, insight and talent as Board members, staff, contractors and volunteers of the organization.

The Indigenous media arts community is a small one and we value Indigenous artistic representation within our organization. We believe we cannot disadvantage Indigenous artists who give their time to imagineNATIVE by excluding them from artistic presentation opportunities or prizes, both of which are determined without their input or influence.

These artists are eligible to submit their work to the Festival; however, they do not influence programming decisions. In cases where their work is being considered, they are not present for programming discussions and decisions about their work, nor do they have input into the scheduling of it. These artists are also eligible for annual prizes. The Festival's competition is adjudicated by independent juries at arm's length from the organization.

Selection of the Festival’s annual awards are determined by consensus by independent juries at arm’s length from the organization. Juries consist of industry and community peers and are majority Indigenous representation.


A Note from the Programming Team:

We, the Programming Team, comprised of a group of peers and Festival employees, appreciates the dedication of all the artists who feel that their work complements the artistic mandate, policy and vision of imagineNATIVE in the presentation their work. The programming process at imagineNATIVE is an involved and challenging one, and we wish to share with submitting artists that many factors are considered when selecting works. Decisions are made by consensus, with considerable thought and discussion during programming deliberations. If a film is not programmed, it is not a comment on individual achievements or relationships, nor does it reflect the artistic value of the work. Outside of our eligibility terms, artistic and programming policies, the programming process also includes considerations such as available programming slots, scheduling, thematic arcs, and representing the diversity of artistic and cultural perspectives from Indigenous nations in Canada and around the world. We receive hundreds of submissions and the process of accepting and declining works is a necessary, but emotional, experience for everyone involved. As artists, we understand how difficult it can be to receive such news. We appreciate feedback on our processes, and in return are pleased to suggest alternative exhibition strategies for your work beyond the official programme. We hope to continue to receive your works and look forward to meeting you at the Festival.

Download the Policy here.