These are the panelists who will be taking part in YFF. See the detailed schedule (coming soon) to view the panels, the topics and the participants in each.
Sarah Simpson-Yellowquill is a multi-talented Indigenous women, born and raised on Treaty 1 Territory, (Winnipeg, Manitoba).
Sarah is a filmmaker with extensive filmmaking experience, who is dedicated to her craft and has made multiple short films that have screened at North American festivals. She strives to create stories and to help others share their stories through the medium of filmmaking.
Sarah works as Program Manager at the National Screen Institute who oversees CBC New Indigenous Voices training program and TikTok Accelerator for Indigenous Creators.
Valerie Creighton is an industry leader in arts, culture and media, recognized for reenergizing some of the country’s most important organizations in the sector over the last 35 years.
Currently serving as President and CEO of the Canada Media Fund, Valerie positions Canadian programming at the forefront in world markets advocating successful, innovative Canadian content and software applications for current and emerging digital platforms. Valerie has taken part in foreign trade missions and is regularly called upon to present the CMF model internationally.
Valerie holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Saskatchewan, has served on a variety of regional, national, and international juries and boards and has produced radio dramas for the CBC in Saskatchewan, where she owns and operates the Red Horse Ranch.
A producer with a commitment to social issue storytelling, Jon’s most recent feature is Tasha Hubbard’s CSA winning nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up, named Hot Docs Best Canadian Feature before screening theatrically across Canada and at festivals around the world.
He is currently in development on a slate of projects including the feature documentary The Trust Accounts (Alex Williams) and the limited scripted series pihkohowin (Tasha Hubbard, Shane Belcourt).
As a former producer with the National FIlm Board of Canada, other highlights include Janine Windolph’s poetic short docs Stories Are in Our Bones and Our Maternal Home, part of a three-film cycle exploring Cree kinship, Mike Maryniuk’s Annecy official selection June Night, the Doc Lab Saskatchewan project, and the features Gun Runners and Danny (as associate producer).
Founder of EyeSteelFilm in Montreal, Daniel has been a central figure in the international documentary community for over 25 years.
His process-driven and hyper-personal approach, as director, as producer and as educator, have had a profound influence on a generation of documentary filmmakers. His documentary I AM THE BLUES received two Canadian Screen Awards in 2017 for Best Feature Documentary and Best Cinematography; the film also won two Golden Sheaf Awards for Best Director and Best Film.
Daniel is an Associate Professor at the Mel Hoppeinheim School of Cinema and the principal investigator for the Concordia Research Chair in Interactive Filmmaking.
Charlotte Engel is a producer and a former broadcaster with over 25 years of experience in film and television.
While at CBC, she oversaw CBC’s cutting edge documentary strands Firsthand and CBC Docs POV. She specialized in bringing unique voices and unforgettable stories to CBC. Many of these documentaries won multiple awards ( Indictment: The Crimes of Shelley Chartier, Nipawistamasowin: We Will Stand Up and The Skin We’re In).
As a producer of documentaries for Rock Yenta Productions, she brought docs to CBC, TVO and the Documentary Channel. She won a CSA for My Millennial Life and a Golden Sheaf award for Mugshot.
Engel has sat on the boards of Hot Docs, DOC Ontario and imagineNATIVE.
Joshua Aries (at right) is a filmmaker who makes the fan-favorite films. An award-winning director and editor for over nine years, he strives to tell stories that exemplify perseverance, hope, and connection with his signature stylized direction, charm, and attention to detail.
With brushes with the Cannes Film Festival, features on Cineplex, and multiple film festival selections under his belt, his experience has honed his skills in leadership and communication while strengthening his love for collaboration.
He is a recent alumnus of the Canadian Film Centre's 2022 Norman Jewison Film Program's Editing Lab.
Amanda Forbis joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1990 as animation director on an educational film titled The Reluctant Deckhand.
In 1995, Wendy Tilby invited her to Montreal to co-direct When the Day Breaks (1999). It received numerous honours, including the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Academy Award® nomination and the Grand Prix at the Annecy, Zagreb and Hiroshima international animation festivals. In 2011, they followed up with Wild Life, which garnered a number of prizes and was also nominated for an Academy Award®.
The duo has recently completed their third NFB short, The Flying Sailor (2022).
Based in Winnipeg, David McLeod is the CEO of Native Communications Incorporated (NCI), which operates a provincial radio network. He is also the Executive Producer of the Indigenous Music Countdown (IMC), a weekly Top 40 program syndicated across Canada on 15 radio stations, including SiriusXM.
David has over 30 years of experience working in media, from writing and directing children’s programs appearing on CBC Manitoba North, hosting talk radio and television, to working as a reporter, covering Northern Manitoban stories for several years.
He currently sits on the boards of the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network and the Winnipeg International Writers Festival, and is also a member of the Winnipeg Indigenous Writers Collective.
As a seasoned producer, Erin has seen her award-winning work on national outlets such as CBC, Bravo!, CTV, Vision TV, Global, Knowledge Network, Corus, PBS and Youtube.
She recently finished up her tenure as the Co-Executive Director of Vancouver’s Crazy8s Film Society, making the move to Manager of Operations with the Whistler Film Festival.
She is President of Chickadee Creative Works Inc., where she continues to produce television and provides corporate communications to the film and television industry.
Daniel Irving (at left) is an award-winning director from Vancouver, BC, known for creating unexpected and rule breaking films that refuse to stand still.
Their short films have received multiple Leo awards, and been shown at festivals and on streaming services across the world.
They also run an action comedy TikTok channel with over 20 million views and 240k followers. They are currently developing a feature film, and Bell Fund's first ever funded TikTok series.
Catherine Tait began her mandate as President and CEO of CBC/Radio-Canada on July 3, 2018. Catherine is also the Chair of the Global Task Force for Public Media, an initiative of the Public Media Alliance launched in September 2019.
As President and CEO, Catherine is responsible for overseeing the management of CBC/Radio-Canada to ensure that Canada's national public broadcaster can deliver on the various aspects of its mandate.
Prior to her appointment, Catherine co-founded New York-based Duopoly Inc, an independent film, television and digital content company and also co-founded iThentic, a digital content company in 2006 and Hollywood Suite in 2010.
Previous experience includes President and COO of Salter Street Films, Director and Cultural Attaché with the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, and Manager of Policy and Planning for Telefilm Canada where her passion for Canadian film and television content was ignited.
Thomas is a storyteller of mixed ancestry (Ojibwe/Saulteaux & Russian/Ukrainian settler), from Winnipeg, Manitoba in Treaty 1 territory.
Her recent work includes Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On (TIFF 2022), based on the life of the legendary songwriter and activist, which she co-wrote and directed and Finality of Dusk the upcoming post apocalyptic drama, which she co-wrote with Deaf Mohawk/Ojibwe filmmaker Katarina Ziervogel. Thomas directed, edited and was a researcher on the award-winning APTN/CBC series Taken, which shares the stories of Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
Her recent TV credits include writing/directing on Burden of Truth, writing and voice-directing on the animated preschool series Wolf Joe, and directing episodes of CBC’s Pretty Hard Cases and Heartland. Thomas is a committed youth mentor.
Wendy Tilby’s first film, Strings (1991), won many international awards, in addition to being nominated for an Academy Award®.
For her next film, Tilby joined forces with Amanda Forbis to direct When the Day Breaks (1999), which received the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes, an Academy Award® nomination and the Grand Prix at the Annecy, Zagreb and Hiroshima international animation festivals.
In 2011, they followed up with Wild Life, which garnered a number of prizes and was also nominated for an Academy Award®. The duo recently completed their third NFB short, The Flying Sailor (2022).
Robert Hardy is a seasoned writer and producer. He is currently showrunning the History series Big Timber and was a key part of the creation and first season of the hit Netflix/History series Rust Valley Restorers.
Robert is a storyteller with extensive experience in the development and production of documentary and factual programming, scripted comedy and drama. Robert helped create one of the world’s first web series in 1997, and has served as a Senior Vice President at Entertainment One, a network executive with Bell Media and a Senior Communications officer with CBC-Radio Canada.
Before that he was a communications director, an advertising writer and director and a strategic communications consultant. He has worked as a consultant and collaborator with a diverse range of organizations including Corus, CBC, TELUS, Cirque du Soleil and Kew Media.
Joanne’s career has spanned several different roles. She has worked as a television journalist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, formed an independent production company, and served in senior leadership roles in broadcasting.
As Executive Director of the A-Channel Production Fund and then Director of Programming for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN), Joanne led teams to commission hundreds of hours of programming in all formats and genres.
Joanne has mentored emerging producers and advocated for Canadian creative talent from regional centres. She served as Chair of On Screen Manitoba, a National Director for Women in Communications and Technology and on the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
Dennis Jackson began his career in elementary school watching 16mm prints of animation on aboriginal creation tales. He remembers sitting at the back of the class with the projector as the teacher explained the process of animation. Since this introduction, he has excelled in writing stories about his Cree ancestry with the help of his mother and grandparents.
In 1998 he attained his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film and Video Production at the University of Regina. He founded Dark Thunder Productions, whose first project, Journey Through Fear, won the Telefilm Canada/TVNC Award, presented at the 1998 Banff Television Festival.
Dennis went on to write, produce and direct a one hour stop-motion animated special entitled Christmas at Wapos Bay which premiered as an Official Selection of the 2002 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The company continued to produce stop-motion children’s animation with Wapos Bay – The Series, which has garnered 13 Gemini nominations in its thirty-four episode run.
Dennis received the 2009 National Aboriginal Achievement Award for the Arts, and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Regina in 2015.
Eric is a Saskatchewan-born Indigenous creator from the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation. He began his career in the mid-90s when he would visit his father, Dennis Jackson, at the University of Regina while he completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Film and Video Production. Eric remembers watching his father and mother editing films, explaining the process and screening projects at festivals and industry events, which set his path to follow in his parent’s footsteps.
In the early 2000s Eric was cast in Wapos Bay - The Series as Talon Merasty. He went on to learn screenwriting under the tutelage of Dennis and Melanie Jackson, which would land him a writing position on Guardians: Evolution, while also voicing the character Arimus Afron for two seasons.
He joined his father, Dennis Jackson, in creating Chums - The Series, where a group of young friends are learning about Turtle Island and our connection to the natural world through traditional stories and helping each other.
The pre-school series is created with Chums Media Inc., owned by Paxolotl Media Inc. (Eric's own film company) and Zoot Pictures from Manitoba.
Born in Zurich, Switzerland, Stephen spent his childhood in Switzerland, Japan and Australia before immigrating to Canada in his mid-teens.
Stephen has a degree in Industrial Design from Carleton University and spent 13 years in the Science Centre community as an exhibit designer and administrator.
He entered television production in the mid 90s creating, producing and directing Utopia Cafe, a network show for CBC. Since then he's directed a mix of scripted and unscripted content.
He has over 200 episodic TV credits and has written and/or directed over 350 commercials.
His company, Stephen Hall Creative, provides creative services focused on screen-based content.
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