The inaugural Winda Film Festival, described as a ‘cinematic dreamtime from around the world… (giving) voice to a diverse global Indigenous film community” will open tonight in Sydney.

Screening a series of features, documentaries and shorts through to Sunday from more than eight countries including Finland, Canada, the United States and Australia, Festival Artistic Director Pauline Clague sat down to talk about the first-ever Winda and the films on offer.

“WINDA is a new Indigenous film festival that will showcase stories from Russia to Roebourne,” said Clague. “The stories are made by Indigenous filmmakers and they may be different settings but they resonate in stories of overcoming struggle, connection to community and family and a joy of life… and celebrate the stories from the Indigenous peoples from here and around the world.”

Winda will open with New Zealand Director Lee Tamahori’s outstanding drama Mahana screening tonight at Dendy Opera Quays, with Indigenous Maori actress and film’s star Nancy Brunning attending the Festival’s first-ever screening.

“We chose Mahana because this is Lee’s first film back on New Zealand soil since Once Were Warriors, twenty years ago,” explained Clague, with Tamahori’s latest project reuniting him with Once Were Warriors star Temeura Morrison in the title role. “For us the story of family resonates throughout the festival and we also wanted to pay tribute to the legacy of Indigenous filmmakers that have helped to cement a strong sense of story.”

Goldstone, which opened this year’s Sydney Film Festival to strong reviews, will also screen at the inaugural Winda.

“We are so happy to show a film like Goldstone, by Ivan Sen” said Clague. “He is a creative force that engages people into the worlds he creates. We wanted to show a strong story and Aaron Pedersen plays the role so well.”

Hosting 14 Australian premieres and one world premiere, the Festival will also screen two Australian virtual reality shorts. Collisions, a virtual reality visit to the Martu Tribe in the Pilbara desert, will focus on Indigenous elder Nyarri Morgan, while Welcome to Garma will feature Ernie Dingo and a celebration of Yolngu culture.

We wanted to show new technologies that filmmakers are working in,” said Clague. “As storytellers, we often work in different medium and will more into the future of the festival.”

Native Slam, an international collaboration by 15 Indigenous filmmakers to create five short films featuring their spoken and untranslated Indigenous languages, in 72 hours, on a $800 budget will also screen at Winda.

The inaugural Winda Film Festival will screen at Moore Park and Dendy Opera Quays from 10-13 November 2016