In the Film and Video Center, we often find that an image is worth far more than a thousand words. And when words and images come together, they can reach the mind and touch the heart in ways that mere words never could. This is especially true when it comes to climate change.
In the spring of 2011, the Film and Video Center held its Native American Film + Video Festival, which included a special program entitled Mother Earth in Crisis. This program began with an evening screening of Inuit Knowledge and Climate Change, a film that looks at the impact of warming temperatures in the Arctic. The screening was followed by a conversation with the filmmakers, including Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit), who took part via Skype from Igloolik, Nunavut, northern Canada.
The second part of Mother Earth in Crisis was a day of films and panel discussions with a focus on rivers. Throughout the program, we saw how industrial development is endangering the Earth’s rivers and glaciers. We heard warnings from all parts of the Americas about the effects of climate change on indigenous communities, as well as calls to action to protect our Mother Earth.
This video is a compilation of footage from both parts of Mother Earth in Crisis. We hope it will get you thinking about, and involved in, the problems facing our Mother Earth in the 21st century. Just as the festival was a hemispheric event, this video contains both English and Spanish speakers.
In Spanish and English. Use the CC button at the bottom of the video to switch between language and closed caption tracks.
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With 2012 almost here, the staff of the museum's Film and Video Center (FVC) wants to share with you a look at what we did in 2011.
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.
Can you believe that we have already been here in Santa Fe for five days? It has flown by and looking forward to the first official day of Indian Market. You can tell it’s getting close because the roads around the plaza are closed and the white tents are going up.
Today had a repeat program featuring the KidFLIX! shorts which had a lot of kids coming with their parents to see these films. Click here to see xxx.
The highlight program today was the second annual State of Native Art Symposium titled, “Collecting and Collectors: Investigating the Other Side of the Equation” where the panel addressed Native artists as art collectors and spoke about the evolving nature of museum collections. The panel included AndreaHanley (Navajo) director of the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum Shop in Phoenix, Ariz.; John Vanausdall, president/CEO of the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis, Ind.; Steven Karr, director of the Southwest Museum in Los Angles, Calif.; and Teresa Willis (Yakama/Cuyuse/Nez Perce), NMAI Board of Trustee member and personal collector.
These four panelists spoke before a full room at the Santa Fe Convention Center with welcoming remarks by SWAIA executive director, Bruce Bernstein and moderated by NMAI director, Kevin Gover. Some the discussion focused on the fact that collecting begins with a dialogue between artists, buyers, collectors and museums. Native art has risen from a local topic to a national and global level. It’s important to reach out to those first time buyers. What can galleries and museums do to expand their collections? It was clear from the panelists that there is not a large budget for acquisitions. Contemporary art collecting is something that is relatively new. Most collections have been looking for traditional arts. It’s great to be at events like the Indian Market to be able to start seeing up and coming artists that can fill the gap in collections.
Are there such as thing as a young collector? According to the panel and the audience, it always starts with one piece, often one that evokes an emotional reaction and/or heart palpitations. According a collector, Bill Wiggins, he said that his collecting began with a trip to the Five Civilized Tribes in Muscogee, Okla. and his life has never been the same. He went on to collect 1-2 pieces each year and now has his collection at the Sequoyah National Resource Center in Arkansas. Great discussion!
The Native Cinema Showcase was rounded out by the screening of “Pelq’ilc/Coming Home” a film directed by Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot’in). Her film follows two individuals in two communities of the Secwepeme Nation in BC that shares their experience in cultural renewal and recovery. The holistic education process they are engaged in is deeply rooted in language, family and tradition as a way to strengthen them and carry them forward as a people.
Lastly, we had Jason Ryle (Saulteaux), the executive director of imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Ont. This collection of shorts from Indigenous filmmakers living in Canada reflects the diversity of works from the First Nations, Metis and Inuit artists. Some films included: “Tungijuq,” “Inuit High Kick,” “Savage,” and “Burnt.”
Today was a busy day for NMAI staff working in Santa Fe during our Native Cinema Showcase at the New Mexico History Museum. We had eight films that were a part of the Showcase Shorts program. The diverse selection of works from Indian Country began with “Search for the World’s Best Indian Taco” that has an old man telling his grandson a tall tale about his search for true love, “Indian Elvis” where we meet Michael Loman, a Choctaw Elvis impersonator, fancy dancer and flute player, finally there was “Shimasani” about a young Navajo girl who must decide whether to retain her traditional lifestyle at home with her grandmother or seek a new life “just over the mountain.”
We had two showings of each group of films and after the second screening we had two of the directors join the audience for Q&A. Steven Judd (Choctaw) the director for “Search for the World’s Best Indian Taco” and Blackhorse Lowe (Navajo), director of “Shimasani.” They talked about the casting process and how it took Judd up to six months to find the right lead in Noah Watts while Lowe went closer to home and used family members and worked closely with his mom who is a Navajo language teacher and made sure that the words were being pronounced correctly. Click here to see the trailer for SFTWBIT.
The glamorous people came out for the NMAI reception hosted by Jill Udall at the Blue Rain Gallery. State Representative Ben Ray Luján was in attendance along with actor Wes Studi, Pojoaque Pueblo Governor George Rivera and Laguna Pueblo Governor Richard Luarkie. Here are a couple of shots from the reception.
Finally, we had the opening night film screening of “On the Ice” which is a suspenseful drama of two young men who go seal hunting but a turn of events has them dealing with more than they can handle. The film was introduced by the writer/director, Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (Inupiaq) and the producer, Cara Marcous. The house was completely packed and after the screening MacLean and Marcous returned to answer questions from the audience. It was interesting to learn that that the film took three years to complete and five years if you include the trailer. They shot it in April and May in Barrow, Alaska. The leads in the movie were not professional actors and the search to find the cast took them all over Alaska and the dad in the film auditioned by a YouTube video that his niece filmed.
Wow, a lot going on and only more to come. Please come out to see the rest of the films, to see the full schedule go to www.swaia.org.
Another beautiful day here and another day full of films. This time the focus was on eight shorts for the program called “KidFLIX!” Several selections from both the U.S. and Canada including, “The Visit” that recounts a Cree family’s strange encounter one night and based on a true story; “My Name is Kobe” where you meet the cat who calls the tribal office home and “Kiss En Concert” an animation that brings you the famous rock band and their fans like you’ve never seen them before—as Styrofoam cups!
In the afternoon, we had a program of three films called “International Indigenous Art on Film.” The first film was “Art + Soul: A Journey into the World of Aboriginal Art—Home and Away.” This film from Australia was directed by Warwick Thornton (Kaytetye) and asked the question, “What does it mean to be ‘at home’ for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people? Is it where you live, or the ‘country’ you are exiled from?” and provides a rich encounter with Aboriginal history and culture.
Zapotec artist, Alejandro Santiago is the subject of the film, “2501 Migrants: A Journey” a documentary that explores questions of art, artist, and indigenous community in the context of global migration. He is from Oaxaca and when he returned home it was a virtual ghost town. In response, he creates a monumental art installation comprised of 2,501 life-size ceramic sculptures that pays homage to each person who left the village in search of a better life.
The last film was “Always Becoming” that follows the process of designing and constructing the outdoor sculpture by Nora Naranjo-Morse (Tewa of Santa Clara Pueblo) that is currently at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. The film looks at how art communicates across generations and borders, becoming a common language between strangers.
After the screenings there was a panel with directors of the last two films, Yolanda Cruz (Chatino) who directed “2501 Migrants” and Nora Naranjo-Morse, director of “Always Becoming” and moderated by NMAI media initiatives programmer, Melissa Bisagni. Cruz enjoyed the filming process and had over 100 hours to edit and one of the most important goals was to capture “what the statues wanted to say.”
A question from the audience directed to Naranjo-Morse was if she included anything from Santa Clara Pueblo in her sculpture in D.C. She used the micaceous clay and vega poles from Santa Clara village to be used along with locust poles and red clay from the D.C.-area and a blue color material that came from Minn. Her focus was to create a film that talked about culture, identity and home.
Click here to get the podcasts that Nora mentioned in her remarks.
We are in and around Santa Fe, please say hi to us!