A Toronto film festival aimed at promoting Indigenous voices in film and media will feature a number of creative’s from the Northwest Territories.

Casey Koyczan and Tanya Snow will have their music video Deni (Be Sharp) make its worldwide debut at the festival this week while Mason Mantla’s Fireweed will be his first film at the festival.

“So this song is, to generalize it, or put it into a genre, it’s kind of like electro, electronic, throat singing, Dene,” said Koyczan of his collaboration. “So a while ago, Tanya Snow reached out to me and asked me if I wanted to collaborate, so she came over and we recorded a few different takes … We did some filming in my living room, we put up a black backdrop so it incorporated us into the video as well as a bunch of animals and landscape.”

The audio track for Deni (Be Sharp) has been released for awhile now, but the music video has only been teased on Koyczan’s YouTube Channel. ImagineNATIVE will now play as the worldwide premiere for the feature length film that features manipulated and altered images of Northern animals over a lack backdrop alongside the artists.

A still image from the music video of Deni (Be Sharp) shows the electronic themed video that will premiere this week at ImagineNATIVE film festival in Toronto. Photo courtesy of Casey Koyczan.

“It utilizes a lot of stock animal footage, a lot of Northern based animals, eagles, bears. Tanya really wanted to have an arctic fox in there so I have a couple clips of them hunting where they jump up in the air and then dig into the ground head first,” said Koyczan.

In addition to the world premiere, Koyczan will have some of his work featured in another Northern artist’s film being featured at the festival. Fireweed will be Mason Mantla’s first piece of media featured at ImagineNATIVE.

“I’ve been trying to get in to ImagineNATIVE for like 8 years and finally having a film worthy enough to be entered feels pretty good,” said Mantla.

Fireweed is a post-apocalyptic martial arts movie based outside of Mason’s home town of Behchoko. It was originally produced and submitted in the 2018 Dead North Film festival in Yellowknife where it won awards for best film location and best director.

“I didn’t even think I was going to win any awards to be honest, because before this project I had won maybe one award and I’ve been in multiple Dead North films. So it was quite a surprise to get all those awards,” said Mantla.

Now his film will be shown in front of an international audience, where Mantla hopes to put the NWT on the film industry map. Mantla says he will use his time in Toronto to network with industry professionals and pitch a feature film that he has been working on and would like to shoot entirely in the North.

“I want to meet like-minded people and I wanted to network and collaborate with other people from other nations and I wanna actually pitch a feature film for next year. I’m writing a feature film right now and I wanna get it produced in the North in Behchoko next year,” said Mantla.

In addition to the two Northern films, Koyczan will be sitting on a panel that discusses how people are utilizing virtual reality in film.

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