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Decolonizing the Narrative Conversation Series: Loretta Todd

Director Loretta Todd on the set of Monkey Beach

Decolonizing the Narrative Conversation Series is an online conversation session that invites leading Indigenous Art creators to talk about their practices and processes, facilitated by Janine Windolph, Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre.

The Conversation Series engages an Indigenous lens in the various arts forms of Literary Arts, Film and Media Arts, Digital Media, Visual Arts, and Performing Arts including Theatre, Dance, and Music with Opera, Singer/Songwriter, and Classical Music. Explore and deepen your understanding of how Indigenous artists are using their arts discipline as a tool to decolonize artistic process and creation.

Loretta Todd

"Perhaps I am an original. But I think my story is not unusual. Indigenous people have to decolonize their lives, too. I ran away at 13, was homeless and became a teen mother – which changed my life. I worked in bakeries, construction, restaurants and eventually went back to school and somehow managed to become a writer, activist, entrepreneur, producer and an award-winning filmmaker. Perhaps just being a storyteller when the world said I had no voice starts the decolonizing process.  

I was once in a cafe, writing. At the next table were some good-looking dudes talking about the supernatural, talking about a script (the Supernatural writers' room?). Deadlines and politeness stopped me from listening too deeply, but I listened just enough to want to slide over and be there, too. Be there as the nerd I am, talking scifi (mostly Star Trek), D & D (still a newbie), fantasy (bright and dark), ghosts, anime and just good, good stories. 

I went on to create my own scifi martial arts series called Skye & Chang. I produced, directed and wrote the pilot and won some nice awards. Since then? First feature (Monkey Beach), producing a children's series about Indigenous science (Coyote Science, 3 seasons) and I created and I'm the Creative Director of the IM4 XR Lab. And, I'm an amateur science nerd (Living with Ghosts: my part of a co-artist/physicist residency). Plus I was fortunate to be able to make documentaries with the NFB, as witness for the people about our people, including about Indigenous veterans (Forgotten Warriors), Indigenous women artists (Hands of History), Indigenous matriarchs Indigenizing education (The Learning Path), the strength of the Kainai Nation (Kainayssini Imanistaisiwa: The People Go On), as well as other docuementaries including Today is a Good Day: Remembering Chief Dan George. But I never knew how to make a documentary. Instead these are honourings, witnessing, remembering. That is much of my practice. And not being afraid to upset the formalities of documentary. 

I'm an Indigenous woman, whose life is rich with stories and knowledge. My life's work is storytelling, influencing and Indigenizing. I've run my own writers' room. I direct with strength and love. Lately I've been thinking about the power of silence and shadow to storytelling. Shadow not as a place of fear but as a place of learning to live with the unseen."


This session takes place over two days:

July 19:  Loretta Todd does a presentation of her work.
July 20: Be part of a conversation with Loretta Todd and Janine Windolph. This second session is the space intended for your questions and comments.

Thank you for joining us!

Sessions may share experiences and ask difficult questions.
These are by registration only and questions and answers will remain unrecorded.

Meet Loretta Todd

Loretta Sarah Todd is a visionary leader in Indigenous media, an artist with entrepreneurial energy and cultural knowledge. Ms. Todd creates space for Indigenous production and storytelling, including designing and founding the IM4 Media Lab, an Indigenous XR Lab, where she is the Creative Director. The IM4 Lab is offering the first ever Indigenous virtual production training program.

Ms. Todd is a director of over 100 projects including award-winning documentaries, and she's created apps, digital media, games and animation. Ms. Todd creates, produces and show-runs award-winning series, especially for children and youth, including Nehiyawetan, Coyote Science, Fierce Girls, and Skye and Chang, a sci-fi martial arts mash-up. Monkey Beach, her first feature, from the novel by Eden Robinson, launched to strong audience and critical response, screening at TIFF, ImagineNative, opening VIFF, sweeping the drama awards at the American Indian Film Festival and was the #1 Canadian film at the box office for 4 weeks, screened at over 40 festivals worldwide and garnered over 20 awards.

She was the one of the first Fellows with the Indigenous Screen Office and Co-Creation Lab at MIT Initiative. A respected speaker, she's presented at VIFFImmersed, The Global AR/VR Summit, Kidscreen, MOMA and at the UN on Aboriginal International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples. And she writes influential scholarly essays, including Aboriginal Narratives in Cyberspace.

Her many honours include a Rockefeller Fellowship to NYU, Sundance Scriptwriter’s Lab, Mayor's Award for Media Arts (Vancouver), Women in Film and Video Innovator Award and Women of Excellence: United Nation's Women's Economic Forum.

Ms. Todd is Cree/Métis - St. Paul des Métis, White Fish Lake First Nation, Red River Métis.

Meet Janine Windolph

Janine Windolph (Atikamekw/Woodland Cree) is the Director of Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre Arts and Creativity. Windolph is known as an Interdisciplinary artist: filmmaker educator, curator, and storyteller. She has a Master of Fine Arts Interdisciplinary in Indigenous Fine Arts and Media Production. 

Filmography includes Stories Are In Our Bones (Director/Writer) Lifegivers: Honoring Our Elders and Children (Director/Writer), The Land of Rock and Gold (Director/Writer/Producer), Ayapiyâhk ôma niyanân “Only us, we are here at home” (Production Mentor/Narrator), From Up North (Producer), The Beacon Project: Stories of Qu’Appelle Valley (Production Support/Storyteller /Producer), and RIIS from Amnesia: Recovering the Lost Legacies (Co-Director and Co-Producer).

Janine Windolph, Indigenous Arts at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity