Panelist, Panel 3 – Using VR to Teach Language and Traditional Knowledge, Panel 6 – Indigenous Digital Media Labs – Critical Mass
Loretta Sarah Todd is a visionary leader in Indigenous media, considered a true artist with entrepreneurial energy and cultural knowledge. Her first feature, Monkey Beach, based on the novel by Eden Robinson, launched to strong audience and critical response, screening at TIFF (Industry Selects) and sweeping the Drama awards at the American Indian Film Festival and Red Nation Film Festival, including Best Film and Best Director. Monkey Beach was the #1 Canadian film for 4 weeks at the box office.
Ms. Todd has directed over 100 projects including award-winning documentaries (Forgotten Warriors, Hands of History, Today is a Good Day), apps, digital media, games and animation. Ms. Todd also creates, produces and showruns series including children’s and youth series, like Nehiyawetan, Coyote Science and Fierce Girls, and sci-fi martial arts mash-up (Skye and Chang).
She helps develop Indigenous media, providing opportunities for Indigenous cast, crew and creative, building spaces for Indigenous production and writing influential scholarly essays. Ms. Todd was instrumental in the formation of the Aboriginal Arts Centre at the Banff Centre. Recently, she created the IM4 Media Lab, an Indigenous XR Lab, where she is the Creative Director.
Trailblazing in the development of immersive technologies, Ms. Todd is currently a Fellow to the Inaugural Indigenous Delegation to the Co-Creation Lab at MIT, sponsored by the Indigenous Screen Office. And she is on the Advisory Board to the ONX Studio, a NYC based immersive technology art lab sponsored by the Onassis Foundation and the NEW MUSEUM, plus she was recently invited to be on the board of the Kaleidoscope Immersive Fund and the jury for the latest SIGGRAPH Conference. A respected speaker, she’s presented at VIFFImmersed, The Global AR/VR Summit, Kidscreen, Museum of Modern Art – as well the Aboriginal International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, at the United Nations – to name a few.
Ms. Todd is an original. She ran-away at 13, was homeless and became a teen mother – which changed her life. She went back to school and worked in bakeries, construction, restaurants – to stay away from social workers who might take her daughter. Still she managed to become a writer, activist, entrepreneur and an award-winning filmmaker. She is a devotee of world cinema, sci-fi, obscure music, elegant fashion, forests, gardens and Paris – and is an instigator of fusion Indigenous cultural expression. She is also knowledgeable about her culture – creating and producing an award-winning children’s series that teaches kids to speak Cree, her father’s first language, as well as creating one of the first Cree language apps.
Her films have screened at the Sundance Festival, Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), American Indian Film Festival (San Francisco), Yamagata Film Festival, ImagineNative, and the Museum of Modern Art, to name just a few. She has received many prestigious honours and awards, including a Rockefeller Fellowship to New York University, attendance to the Sundance Scriptwriter’s Lab, Special Jury Citation (TIFF), Mayor’s Award for Media Arts (City of Vancouver) and the recent Women of Excellence Award, from the United Nation’s WEF Women’s Economic Forum.
Ms. Todd is Cree/Metis, from St. Paul des Metis, White Fish Lake First Nation and Turtle Mountain Chippewa in North Dakota.