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imagineNATIVE Festival features film, media premieres

TORONTO - Look out, Sundance: Canada's imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts
Festival is quickly becoming known as a top stage for launching Aboriginal
film and media productions. Following on the heels of the Toronto
International Film Festival, which rivals Cannes in importance, the 6th
Annual imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival will feature long-awaited

The festival will host the world premiere of well-known Cree Director
Shirley Cheechoo's newest film, "Johnny Tootall," at the opening gala on
Oct. 19, kicking off this year's festivities.

Featuring Adam Beach ("Windtalkers," "Smoke Signals") as Johnny Tootall,
the film is about a young man who returns from service in the Bosnian War
to find his people at war for their sacred land. The film stars an elite
cast of Canadian and international actors including Nathaniel Arcand
("Ginger Snaps 3," "Black Cloud," "North of 60"), Alex Rice ("On the
Corner," "Thunderbird") and Sheila Tousey ("Law and Order," "Ravenous"). An
award-winning director, producer, actress and writer, Cheechoo has received
international acclaim for previous films such as "Bearwalker."

Based on a traditional Ahousaht story, and transformed into a modern
context in association with A-in-chut (Assembly of First Nations British
Columbia Regional Chief Shawn Atleo), the movie was filmed in and around
Ahousaht, and in Brentwood Bay near Victoria, both located in British

"'Johnny Tootall' tells the story of a young Nuu-chah-nulth chief's
spiritual homecoming to the west coast of Vancouver Island, the legendary
land of myth and legends," said Cheechoo. "It is in this magical community
that the wolf is sacred and a guide in a young man's rite of passage. The
ceremonies depicted in the film are sacred and while authenticity was
paramount, privacy was revered.

Politically, 'Johnny Tootall' is fiction, paralleling reality. The
roadblock, while a metaphor for the conflicts of our Native peoples,
mirrors current situations underway in Native territories throughout
British Columbia. The struggle for our Native peoples to maintain their
culture, language and their land has been an ongoing for centuries," she

This year's closing gala film will be the Canadian premiere of "Trudell," a
feature-length American documentary about radical Lakota
activist/songwriter/poet John Trudell that debuted earlier this year at the
Sundance Film Festival.

Director Heather Rae spent 12 years chronicling Trudell's life, from the
occupation of Alcatraz Island in the late 1960s to interviews with Robert
Redford and Kris Kristofferson about Trudell's work in music and film. Rae
will be in attendance as "Trudell" makes its Canadian debut with

The festival includes short and feature-length dramatic films and
documentaries, radio works, music videos, art installations and more from
Canada and around the world. Countries represented at this year's festival
include Finland, India, Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Russia, Australia, New
Zealand and the United States. The festival also offers free media arts
workshops every morning Oct. 20 - 23.

"The imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival is an international
festival that celebrates the latest works by Indigenous peoples on the
forefront of innovation in film, video, radio and new media," said festival
Executive Director Danis Goulet. "Each fall, the festival presents a
selection of the most compelling, distinctive indigenous works from around
the globe. The festival's screenings, parties, panel discussions, and
cultural events attract and connect filmmakers, media artists, programmers,
buyers and industry professionals," he said. "The works accepted reflect
the diversity of the world's indigenous nations and illustrate the vitality
and excellence of our art and culture in contemporary media."

The imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival is celebrating its sixth
year of bringing together the best of Aboriginal creativity. Building upon
last year's groundbreaking success, the 2005 festival promises to be bigger
and better than ever before. In Toronto, Oct. 19 - 23, this year's festival
will feature more than 100 of the finest indigenous-produced film, new
media, radio and art installations from all corners of the world.