CFP: Indigenous Film and Media Conference (9/15/06; 5/11/07-5/12/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Wendy G Pearson
contact email: 

Indigenous Film and Media in an International Context

Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
May 11-12, 2007

In the last decade, indigenous film, television, radio and the internet have become important media for diverse forms of representations by indigenous peoples around the world. The advent of digital video and the increasing accessibility of filmic technologies of all kinds, as well as familiarity with the languages of film, has contributed to the exponential growth in indigenous cinemas. Indigenous films are no longer confined to short films and documentaries, but increasingly include dramatic feature films, animation, and experimental film-making. The success of films such as Ofelas (Pathfinder, Sami – Norway, 1987), Smoke Signals (Cheyenne/Arapaho – USA, 1988), Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner, Inuit – Canada, 2001), Beneath Clouds (Gamilaroi – Australia, 2002) and Whale Rider (Whangara -- Aotearoa/New Zealand, 2002) also signals the possibility for indigenous cinemas to locate audiences world-wide, rather than being limited to local interest; the new audiences for indigenou!
 s films include both people from other indigenous groups and non-indigenous people. Radio, television and the internet have also seen increasing use in indigenous communities and provide exciting opportunities for self-representation, exploration and alliances amongst indigenous groups.

The organizers of this conference (a partnership between the Department of English and Film Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Culture and Expression Program of the School of Arts and Letters, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, York University) wish to provide a forum for discussion of a wide variety of aspects of indigenous film and media, from questions of representation, identity and politics to the uses of technology to the problems of invoking a comparative perspective on indigenous cinemas and other media. Contemporary indigenous films, for example, have opened up diverse perspectives on both contemporary and historical indigenous life. New film and video technologies also make visual media more accessible to people whose issues are perhaps not 'mainstream' within the political and representational spectrum both inside and outside indigenous communities.

At the same time, the comparative perspective seems to become in some ways inevitable when the main venues for indigenous cinemas are film festivals, such as the Canadian ImagineNATIVE festival or the Finnish Skábmagovat festival or the First Nations, First Features festival held in 2005 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. While Skábmagovat features Sami film, plus the films of one other invited indigenous group per year, many if not most of the other indigenous film festivals accept films from indigenous peoples anywhere in the world. Yet, the relative inaccessibility of indigenous television and radio to audiences outside the local broadcast areas suggests that the comparative turn in the study of indigenous cinemas does not necessarily apply to other media.
This conference aims to open up the following questions: What issues are newly available to indigenous film-makers and other producers of indigenous media? What ideological forces operate both to open up and to limit possibilities for representation of indigenous lives? What effects have new technologies had on specific areas of indigenous self-representation? What happens to the study of indigenous film, television and radio when comparative perspectives are introduced, such as a cross-cultural exploration of indigenous gender issues? How are such comparative approaches feasible/inevitable in the face of both local politics and global pressures on indigenous cultural production? What are the possibilities and problems inherent in reaching different audiences for indigenous film and other media? To what extent does the cross-cultural exhibition of indigenous cinemas contribute to a collaborative politics of resistance and self-affirmation? Paper submissions are welcome!
  from academic critics, film and media practitioners, and community members and activists on these questions and any other issues relevant to indigenous film and media.

To submit a paper, please send a one-page abstract, title and brief (150 word) bio to the conference organizers. The deadline for abstract submission is September 15, 2006.

Wendy G. Pearson—
Ute Lischke—
David T. McNab—
Gail Vanstone—


Dr. Wendy Pearson
Assistant Professor
Department of English and Film
Wilfrid Laurier University
ON N2L 3C5
Received on Sat Sep 09 2006 - 11:48:37 EDT