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Image: A still from 'Vai' the opening night feature film

Asinabka Festival presents Indigenous film and media arts from the world’s most interesting indie artists—08.07.19 to 08.11.19

By Greggory Clark on August 7, 2019

This year’s Asinabka Festival kicks off with the traditional opening night outdoor film screening. Head to the courtyard at Club SAW for 8:30pm on Wednesday August 7 to see the Canadian premiere of Vai, a multilingual film made by nine female filmmakers in seven countries.

Before the screening there’s an opening welcome and performances, plus barbecue and art pop-ups. A short walk away, an afterparty at Mercury Lounge goes from 11pm to 2am. This is just the beginning to a fun week showcasing more than 50 Indigenous films, live music and international art.

The eighth annual festival presents an impressive program of Indigenous film and media arts, allowing independent artists (both Indigenous and non-Indigenous) to show their best works that examine Indigenous issues and topics in Algonquin Territory and around the world. This year’s lineup includes artists in attendance from more than one dozen nations in North America, Scandinavia and the Pacific; and a special program of shorts curated by Wairoa Māori Film Festival (New Zealand).

On Thursday, the film festival moves inside Arts Court and the Ottawa Art Gallery for industry events and nightly screenings through Sunday night. There will be directors in attendance for most films.

Moving beyond the boundaries of music video and short film, Sound/Tracks is an annual event at Asinabka produced in partnership with SAW Video Media Art Centre. The unique program matches musicians with media artists and gives each creative team the challenge of preparing a live music/video performance. This year’s participants include Craig Commanda, Brian Wallin, Niishzhoowe, Barry Takawgak, Edgar Hernandez, and Larissa Desrosiers. A music showcase follows the Sound/Tracks presentation on Saturday night featuring Silla + Rise and Kelly Fraser at Club SAW.

Late Saturday night is a party being billed as the world’s first 2-Spirit Ball. The cabaret show will highlight Indigiqueer culture from across the continent and abroad, celebrating 2-Spirit artists in a variety of performances: drag, dance, vogue, music, spoken word, and performance art. The evening’s hosts are Alik Beavers, Cleo Starr, and Jessica Wolfe.

Other highlights of the local festival include VR and video game demos, film and sound workshops, and an art exhibition opening at Enriched Bread Artists; curated by Christopher Wong.

Visit for the complete program and schedule. A festival pass costs $40 and film passes (screenings only) cost $25 online and at the door.