The lights were low, the seats were filled and people were smiling in Moose Factory March 8-12 for the fourth annual Weeneebeg Aboriginal Film and Video Festival. The event drew a record attendance this year with all of the screenings, workshops, special activities and guest artists to make this year’s festival was an undeniable success.

The festival offered 24 films, including shorts and long works, documentaries, animations and experimental efforts from Aboriginal artists from around the world. For instance, Shirley Cheechoo’s new film, Johnny Tootall, and festival founder Paul Richard’s The Winter Chill were featured. Both artists as well as six other filmmakers were on-hand to present their work and answer questions from the audience.

A new component this year was a series of workshops organized for local students to get practical experience in filmmaking. The topics ranged from stop motion animation, camera-less animation,

documentary creation, short film production and an actors’ workshop presented by aboriginal celebrities Dakota House and Nathaniel Arcand.

“The aim of the festival is to build a northern audience who appreciate seeing film and videos. We also believe it’s important to exhibit new undiscovered filmmakers along side more established artists,” said Richard.

This year marked the beginning of a partnership between the Weeneebeg Festival and the Independent Filmmakers of Toronto (LIFT) organization to offer more in-depth training throughout the year to local people of all ages who want to become involved in the media arts -who can then be showcased at the festival one day.

In only four short years the Weeneebeg festival has quickly established itself as a source of inspiration for both the audience and the invited guests. The relaxed and friendly atmosphere and the tireless dedication of the staff and volunteers make this annual event a true gem of the north.