National Screen Institute announces applications now open for NSI IndigiDocs: a customized online training program for Indigenous creators to develop a short documentary

About NSI IndigiDocs

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is now accepting applications for the 2021 edition of NSI IndigiDocs – a two-phase, part-time, online program offering customized training for Indigenous filmmakers who have an idea for a 10-minute documentary film.

This year, due to COVID-19, the program will be delivered online. Up to 12 hours each week (for six weeks) will be spent in class and working on assignments during the first phase starting in mid-February 2021. Throughout training, students will learn from top industry experts.

Up to eight students will attend boot camp to learn about writing, producing and directing, and develop a script for their documentary idea. At the end of phase 1 all students will have a market-ready film proposal. Students also attend the online edition of Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Film Festival 2021.

In phase 2, a jury selects up to four students to go into production and receive a cash award of up to $16K and approximately $10K of in-kind services. Students will be paired with mentors as they take their films into production. Final post-production of films will be done through the National Film Board. Completed films will be broadcast as a one-hour special on APTN. Individual films appear on documentary Channel, nfb.ca, nsifilms.ca and aptnlumi.ca.

“NSI IndigiDocs’ track record is best displayed through the successes of our alumni who continually receive recognition for their outstanding work,” said Kaya Wheeler, program manager. “êmîcêtôcêt – Many Bloodlines, by director Theola Ross and producer Alex Fisher-Bailey, won the 2020 Betty Youson Award for Best Canadian Short Documentary at Hot Docs, and Ryan Cooper was recently named one of Playback’s 10 to Watch.”

In 2015, Alex Lazarowich made Cree Code Talker through NSI IndigiDocs. Alex says, “The training I had through NSI IndigiDocs uplifted my career which has exploded in the past five years. I went from NSI IndigiDocs to winning an award at Sundance Film Festival 2019 (special jury award for directing Fast Horse). The most transformative part of my NSI learning experience was that it gave me a new approach and mindset for filmmaking. I learned things at NSI that I hadn’t been aware of prior.”

NSI is committed to selecting participants from a diverse community of voices including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, women-identifying, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and two-spirit (LGBTQ2S+), people with disabilities, those from regional and remote areas and various religious groups.

Kaya Wheeler is the program manager. Renowned filmmaker Shane Belcourt (Amplify, Red Rover) is the story advisor. Lisa Meeches is NSI’s Indigenous training programs advisor.


Find out more and apply for the program by December 15, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. ET.


Twenty-eight short documentaries have been made through NSI IndigiDocs. Many have screened at festivals and events throughout Canada and around the world.

My Mother My Rock by writer/director/producer Kelly Roulette is screening at LA Skins Fest later in November. As The Smoke Rises by director Sharon Heigl and producer Jennifer Ille has screened at many 2020 festivals, including a win for best documentary short film at Screen Power Film Festival, London, UK.

ahkâmêyimo nitânis | Keep Going My Daughter screened at Hot Docs (2019). When the Children Left won the inaugural Indigenous Spirit Award and the Manitoba Short Film Audience Choice Award at Gimli Film Festival (2019). Big Momma, When the Children Left and ahkâmêyimo nitânis | Keep Going My Daughter all screened at Vancouver International Film Festival (2019). And ahkâmêyimo nitânis | Keep Going My Daughter and When the Children Left both screened at imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival (2019).

NSI IndigiDocs 2020 is funded by Program Partners APTN, Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and RBC Emerging Artists Project; Indigenous Training Programs Partner Directors Guild of Canada (DGC); Boot Camp Presenting Sponsor Manitoba Film & Music; Strategic Sponsor documentary Channel; Supporting Sponsors Telefilm Canada, Super Channel, CBC Gem, Corus Entertainment and A&E Networks; Provincial Sponsors Manitoba Film & Music and Creative BC through the Daryl Duke and William Vince Scholarship Fund, Creative Saskatchewan, Saskatchewan Media Production Industry Association and Northwest Territories Film Commission; Industry Partner the National Film Board of Canada; Industry Supporters imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival, Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival and Service Sponsors Line 21 Media and iSplice Films. NSI Core Funders are Manitoba Sport, Culture & Heritage and the City of Winnipeg through the Winnipeg Arts Council.

About the National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI)

The National Screen Institute – Canada (NSI) is a charitable, not-for-profit organization. Charitable registration: 103836722 RR0001.

Renowned for having given many content creators their first breaks, NSI provides customized training, mentorship and production support through programs like NSI Totally Television, CBC New Indigenous Voices, NSI Business for Producers, NSI IndigiDocs, NSI New Northern Voices and TELUS STORYHIVE.

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