If most film festivals tend to attract a wide demographic, the Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival tends to skew young.
Now in its 12th year, the WAFF attracts that audience with events such as a Youth Education Day, an introduction to cinematic subjects from acting to editing to makeup, which takes place Wednesday morning at the University of Winnipeg.
Historically, the festival has also been willing to show short films from novice First Nations filmmakers, a trait that has paid dividends this year, according to Coleen Rajotte, the fest's founder and artistic director.
The fest's opening-night film, Rhymes for Young Ghouls, is the first feature from Jeff Barnaby.
"His earlier shorts played at WAFF, and we're really proud that we're continuing to help our artists build their careers, and get their work out there to the public," Rajotte says.
This year's WAFF begins tonight and runs until Sunday. Highlights include:
-- Rhymes for Young Ghouls, Tonight at 7, Globe Cinema.
Winner of the best Canadian first feature at this year's Vancouver International Film Festival, this drama stars Devery Jacobs as Aila, a young woman who evades residential school in the '70s by selling pot for her uncle, a situation that comes to a crisis when her father (Glen Gould) returns to the reservation after a stint in jail. Gould will be in attendance for the screening, which gets the added attraction of a red-carpet event prior to the screening.
-- Mystery Road, Friday, 7 p.m., Globe Cinema.
This Australian thriller follows an indigenous rookie detective who makes people uncomfortable with an investigation into a dead girl found under a highway trucking route outside his own hometown.
-- The Canadian Aboriginal Music Video Showcase, Friday at 8 p.m. at the Pyramid Cabaret
Screening music videos is a regular event at WAFF, but some of the younger members of the festival suggested it was time to make it nightclub-friendly, says Rajotte.
"So we have Lightning Cloud flying in from Los Angeles to be our headliners," she says referring to the American hip-hop duo. "It's a different way to get our work out there rather than have all our music videos playing in a darkened theatre."
Tickets are $10 at the door.
-- Fresh Meat, Saturday at 7 p.m., Globe.
This dark horror-comedy from New Zealand begins with a hostage-taking of a Maori family by a gang of incompetent criminals who discover it is a family of practising cannibals.
-- Empire of Dirt, Sunday, 7 p.m., Globe Cinema.
Three generations of women come together after a drug crisis in this Canadian drama by Cree scriptwriter Shannon Masters, starring Lena Mahikan and Jennifer Podemski.
More information is available at WAFF.ca