The 4th World Indigenous Media Lab is a year-long fellowship for emerging and mid-career Indigenous filmmakers, providing opportunities to develop filmmaking skills and networks through festival participation, hands-on training, masterclasses, workshopping projects in development, pitch activities, and meetings with funders and other industry decision-makers. Fellowship activities take place September 2021 through May 2022 at Camden International Film Festival (CIFF), Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). The program is a collaborative partnership between the festivals and Nia Tero. The Points North Institute in Camden provides a vast network of peer and industry mentors and resources at CIFF, including access to the Points North Forum and opportunities for one-on-one connections with future collaborators and funders. At Big Sky, fellows will attend the DocShop filmmaker’s forum, Indigenous filmmaker screenings and events, and a private seminar with leaders in the Indigenous filmmaking community and the film industry at large. The Seattle experience, in partnership with Nia Tero, offers industry master classes, hands-on training and global networking in the SIFF urban festival atmosphere.
White Earth Ojibwe descendant Waskaganish Cree Enrolled member | Washington
Ajuawak Kapashesit is an actor, screenwriter, playwright, and director for stage and screen. His acting credits include Indian Horse, Once Upon a River, and Indian Road Trip. His television credits include Bad Blood Season 2 (Netflix) and Outlander Season 4 (Sony). In 2018, he was chosen as an Indigenous Film Opportunity Fellow with the Sundance Film Institute and was a finalist for the Sundance Indigenous Filmmakers Fellowship. His short story, A Fresh Start, was a finalist in the Imagining Indigenous Futurisms short story competition in 2020 and was selected for publication in the anthology, Before the Usual Time, published by Latitude 46 that year. He is an alumnus of the CBC Actors Conservatory at the Canadian Film Centre. Currently, Ajuawak is a Vision Maker Media Shorts Fellow and a contributing writer for Tallboyz Season 3on CBC.
Cherokee Nation | Oklahoma
Brit Hensel is an Oklahoma based writer and award-winning filmmaker whose work focuses on Indigenous storytelling and environmental justice. An enrolled member of Cherokee Nation, she was recently awarded the 4th World Indigenous Media Fellowship. Previously, Brit directed the documentary films Zibi Yajdan (2019) and Native and American (2017). Brit’s films have screened both nationally and abroad, including at Māoriland Film Festival. She was awarded NeXtGen’s 30 Under 30 and was a NeXt Doc Collective Film Fellow. In 2019, she worked as a producer for Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People, an Emmy-winning documentary-style program featuring the people, places, history, and culture of the Cherokee Nation. Brit recently worked on the first season of the FX series, Reservation Dogs. She is currently in development on ᎤᏕᏲᏅ, a short film that is part of the Reciprocity Project by Nia Tero. Brit continues to use her love for storytelling to help amplify the voices and values of her community. Most importantly, she hopes her work honors and makes Cherokee people proud.
Native Hawaiian | California
Just as her family served Hawaiʻi through their talents, Erin Lau wants to elevate her community through film. Erin was selected as a Sundance Native Lab fellow for her Chapman University MFA thesis, The Moon and the Night. The award-winning film went on to screen in over 30 festivals, including being short-listed for the 2018 Student BAFTA awards and licensed by the Criterion Channel. Since graduation, Erin has signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) and continued her growth through fellowships with the Sundance Indigenous Institute, Film Independent’s Project Involve, Unlock Her Potential, and Powderkeg’s Break The Room. Over the past three years, she has worked as a Senior Producer-Director for Jubilee Media, where her videos accumulated over 130 million views. Through this work, she was also given the opportunity to develop empathy-forward content for brands including Google, Netflix, and Always.
Mi’kmaq Acadia First Nation | Maine
Jared Lank is an Indigenous photographer and filmmaker from Portland, Maine. Jared’s breadth of work is ultimately focused around his experience as an Indigenous person growing up in Maine, making environmental portraits, photographing landscapes and promoting Indigenous issues. Jared has been immersed in his community both locally and nationally, amassing a following of over 32,000 followers on social media. From sharing his personal stories to uplifting those of his fellow community members, Jared’s work has grown from being featured by Instagram to working for global brands. He currently runs a freelance production studio with his wife, and together they are hired by clients to develop creative campaigns and to fulfill the entire production process. Jared recently accepted a position as a Storytelling Fellow for Upstander Project, focusing on documenting the stories of Indigenous people in the Dawnland.
Zapotec (from Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico) | Montana
Lucía Ortega Toledo has a B.A. in Communication Studies and a Master and Doctorate in Literature from Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico. She has collaborated on commercial projects, documentaries, and short films, including the Emmy-awarded short film Iniskim. Her essays and poetry have been published in Opción, Castálida, Revista Reverso, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, among others in Mexico, and in Adspiro, Revista LALT from University of Oklahoma and Temporales from New York University in the United States. Lucía wrote and co-directed her first two fiction shorts, Belonging and Mother Earth’s Last Guest, in 2020. These projects gave her a sense of purpose and power to make her voice heard as a woman and as a person of color and to build alliances to learn, collaborate and make films of substance for herself and her community. They also inspired her to start working on her first feature documentary, HumanKind.
Cree Treaty 5, Pimicikamak Cree Nation-Cross Lake | Manitoba
Theola Ross is a social worker and filmmaker from Pimicikamak Cree Nation, Manitoba; now living in Tkaronto, Ontario with 2-year-old daughter K.w.tin-NorthWind. Theola currently works for the Ministry of Education, as well as within the community teaching the Cree language to youth, sharing her story and bringing the arts through an Indigenous lens to schools in the Toronto District School Board. êmîcêtôsêt: Many Bloodlines premiered at the 2020 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, and was winner of the Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary and the Best Short Documentary Work at the 2020 imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. Most recently it was nominated for Best Short Documentary at the 2021 Canadian Screen Awards.
Past Indigenous Filmmaker Fellows:
2018: RAZELLE BENALLY (Oglala/Diné) | RAMONA EMERSON (Diné) | LEYA HALE (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota/Diné) | ALEX LAZAROWICH (Cree) | IVY MACDONALD (Blackfeet) | CHRISTEN MARQUEZ (Native Hawaiian) | COURTNEY MONTOUR (Mohawk) | ALYCIA ORTIZ (Miwok) | DEIDRA PEACHES (Diné) | COLLEEN THURSTON (Choctaw) | SHAANDIIN TOME (Diné)
2019: TAYLOR HENSEL (Cherokee Nation) | CLEO KEAHNA (White Earth Anishinaabe and Meskawaki) | IVAN MACDONALD (Blackfeet) | IVY MACDONALD (Blackfeet) | COURTNEY MONTOUR (Mohawk, Kahnawake) | JJ NEEPIN (Cree) | EVELYN PAKINEWATIK (Nipissing First Nation, Ojibwe) | RAVEN TWO FEATHERS (Cherokee, Seneca, Cayuga, and Comanche)
2020: JUSTIN AH CHONG (Kanaka Maoli, Native Hawaiian) | CHAD CHARLIE (Ahousaht First Nation) | EMILY COHEN IBAÑEZ (LatinX, Columbian-American) | GEORGIANNA LEPPING (Soloman Islander) | REGINA LEPPING (Solomon Islander) | ALEX SALLEE (Iñupiaq) | ASHLEY SOLIS (Nahua and Chicana) | ASIA YOUNGMAN (Cree, Métis and Haudenosaunee)
MAJOR SUPPORT PROVIDED BY:
Great thanks to the 4th World collective and program partners: