Jesse Wente named director of the Indigenous Screen Office

The office was established to create a long-term strategy to support Indigenous talent development in Canada.

Jesse Wente has been named director of the Indigenous Screen Office.

The office, which was unveiled at the Banff World Media Festival last June, aims to implement a long-term strategy to support Indigenous talent, short- and feature-script development, television and digital media and training. The office will also facilitate relationships with broadcasters, distributors, training institutions and federal funders.

Wente, who has served as director film programmes at the TIFF Bell Lightbox since 2011, will begin his new role on Feb. 1. In addition to his work at TIFF, Wente has contributed to CBC Radio as a critic, reporter and producer since 1996. He has also served on numerous boards, including the Toronto Arts Council and the imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival. He is Ojibwe from the Serpent River First Nation.

“Now more than ever, the need for Indigenous narrative sovereignty is evident and I’m excited to work with the community of Indigenous creators to help grow our industry and amplify their voices,” Wente said in a release.

The office is the result of a multi-stakeholder engagement process led by Indigenous Governance consultant Marcia Nickerson. It brings to fruition recommendations from her report for the CMF, which last year called for a unique body dedicated to advancing Indigenous voices on screen to be modeled after the one in Australia.

APTN, CBC/Radio-Canada, the Canada Media Fund, Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Media Producers Association and the NFB collaborated to support the launch of the office. Associate partners include Bell Media, the Harold Greenberg Fund and VICE Studio Canada.

Image: George Pimentel, Wireimage Getty for TIFF