For their lively participation and creative gifts, we want to thank the filmmakers whose works we have screened this year, the program speakers who gave us new insights; the interpreters who made fluid our on-site and Internet discussions in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and indigenous languages; and the four guest selectors for the 15th Native American Film + Video Festival: Ana Rosa Duarte (Yucatec Maya), Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in), Terry Jones (Seneca), and Nancy Marie Mithlo (Chiricahua Apache).
The festival, March 31 through April 3, was this year’s main event. One hundred works were screened and discussed by the filmmakers and other cultural activists here to show their work and exchange ideas. More than 75 Native nations from 11 countries in the Americas were represented in this year’s events. For a good look at what took place, visit the festival's handsome web page. We tried to capture a sense of the experience in this video overview:
The department is also a national resource for information services about Native film and media, and work leapt ahead on the redesign of the Native Networks Website and on developing our database on indigenous media. We began to use social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to continue conversations about Native film and promote a diversity of programs. We responded to hundreds of inquiries and this year hosted more than 40 researchers using the media study collection. We are particularly pleased to have had as a resident fellow Maite Sanz de Galdeano of Cultura de Futuro in Madrid.
In response to the urgency expressed in many film submissions this year, FVC initiated Mother Earth in Crisis to showcase and discuss outstanding films about environmental issues. This on-going program was launched during the festival with a full-day event that included filmmakers and eloquent leaders Chief Oren Lyons (Onondaga and Seneca) and Tonya Gonnella Frichner (Onondaga).
Mother Earth in Crisis was also the theme of two fall presentations featuring the Conversations with the Earth project for indigenous community media, and selections from the series Samaqan/Water Stories, with outstanding commentary by Chief Brian David of the Mohawk Council of Akwesasne.
This year’s Native Cinema Showcase (NCS) in Santa Fe moved to a new venue, and expanded to a week-long event, opening with On the Ice, the multiple award-winning first feature by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Iñupiat). In New York, the 2011 Animation Celebration! and other daily screenings were well-received, including special screenings for Day of the Dead, Thanksgiving, and the December holidays.
Other highlights include a partnership with UCLA’s Motion Picture and Television Archives and Cinema Tropical to screen a retrospective of works by filmmaker Pedro Daniel López (Tzotzil Mayan) in New York and Los Angeles. Other screenings with discussions included Smokin’ Fish by Luke Griswold-Turgis and Cory Mann (Tlingit); and Grab by Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo), which screened with a Laguna-style “grab," or gift toss, to the audience in both New York and Santa Fe. Here I Am, the first feature of Aboriginal filmmaker Beck Cole (Luritja/Warrumunga), had a special screening at the Heye Center before going to Toronto to win Best Feature in the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival.
Thanks and Appreciation
The FVC’s programs could not have flourished without the generous support and lively contributions of so many filmmakers, funders, colleagues, and friends. We are all especially appreciative of this year’s festival manager, Reaghan Tarbell (Mohawk), for accomplishing the immense job and making a fabulous festival.
FVC continued partnering and working with other organizations, including Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s Film and Culture Festival in Palm Springs; Cinema Tropical; the Experimental Film Festival of Madrid; the imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival; the International Center for Transitional Justice; the Mexican Cultural Institute, Native American Public Telecommunications; New York University’s Native Forum and its Centers for Media, Culture & History and Media & Religion; SWAIA (the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts); the Tribeca Film Institute; and many other groups.
Comings and Goings
The Film and Video Center staff is going through a lot of changes, and there have been many goodbyes. Having worked as the FVC’s information specialist and programmer for more than 30 years, Millie Seubert has returned home to Oklahoma. Reaghan Tarbell has started work towards an M.A. in Cinema Studies at Concordia University in Montreal, returning home to live on the Kahnewake Reserve. Also returning home to Georgia is program assistant Rebekah Mejorado. Gaby Markey, FVC’s invaluable administrative support staff for the past 6 years, has now joined the staff of FEMA.
Newest additions to the staff include Fatima Mahdi, coordinator of database and media study activities; Lindsey Cordero, Latin American Program assistant; and Aaron Kutnick, media producer working on films about FVC’s programs for on-line posting. Wendy Allen continues to provide her talents to the new design of the Native Networks website and the Film and Video Center’s own web page on the NMAI site. Cindy Benitez returns in January, and Amalia and Elizabeth are still at work developing the program and FVC’s future possibilities. This year, perhaps the greatest welcome we give is to Ayelén Avirama, born in February.
What an incredible year it has been!
All our best,
Elizabeth Weatherford, Amalia Cordova, Wendy Allen, Fatima Mahdi, Aaron Kutnick, Lindsey Cordero & Cindy Benitez