By Rosanna Deerchild
October 21, 2016 – Jesse Wente is Unreserved's new culture columnist. And in his day job as the director of film programs at TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto, he spends a lot of time at the movies.
He was also involved in the early stages of the ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival on the board and programming level, and has seen how the annual event has grown over 17 years.
“When I joined ImagineNATIVE in the early days, it was largely attended by an Indigenous audience here in Toronto — pretty dedicated, small-ish group of people. I think last year they did well over 20,000 and they're expecting maybe as high as 30,000 for this year's festival,” he said.
For Wente, festivals provide a great opportunity for films that fall outside the traditional multiplex market, fostering the culture and artists so they can grow the medium.
“Our stories are growing in popularity and recognition. I see a much bigger appetite for these discussions and engagement around Indigenous stories and Indigenous issues. I think non-Indigenous creators see this as well. And what we're seeing is a lot of interest in these stories, established producers looking to tell these stories,” he said.
READ MORE: “Indigenous Filmmakers Need To Control Storytelling, Says Jesse Wente“. CBC Radio. N. p., 2016. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.