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Eighth annual Native Cinema Showcase creates connections

SANTA FE, N.M. – The National Museum of the American Indian and Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts have sponsored the Native Cinema Showcase, an annual indigenous film festival, for the past seven years. This year, however, they are partnering with the Southwestern Association for American Indian Arts, sponsors of the renowned Santa Fe Indian Market, in order to offer an expanded program of films and related activities.

The organizers of the event believe that good films are a powerful method for bringing people together to discuss issues of common concern. For that reason, they have chosen “connection” as the central theme of this year’s showcase. Their objective is to help bridge generational and ethnic divides.

The showcase will be held Aug. 21 – 24 at two venues: CCA’s Cinematheque and the Cathedral Park Cinema, a new state-of-the-art theater two blocks from Santa Fe’s historic plaza. The enhanced program will include classic and contemporary films and videos by outstanding indigenous writers, directors and producers; panel discussions; media workshops; and guest appearances by featured filmmakers.

“With so many remarkable films by emerging and established filmmakers, the new downtown venue gives our event a welcome chance to expand and to connect more people with the vitality of indigenous cinema,” said Elizabeth Weatherford, founding director of the NMAI Film and Video Center.

“We are pleased to include NMAI and CCA as part of the Indian Market program,” said Bruce Bernstein, executive director of SWAAIA. “It is particularly exciting to include this burgeoning art form alongside the breadth of expressive culture that is Native culture.”

The showcase will kick off its eighth year with daylong animation and filmmaking workshops, and a Native Youth Jam in the evening.

A special premiere of “Geronimo,” the fourth episode of the PBS “American Experience” documentary series “We Shall Remain,” will open the festival. According to its producers, the series is designed to present a multifaceted story of Native ingenuity and perseverance paired with short, contemporary stories that demonstrate how the past resonates in the lives of American Indians today. “Geronimo” producers and directors Dustinn Craig, White Mountain Apache/Navajo, and Emmy Award winner Sarah Colt will be on hand to discuss the making of the film and to answer questions.

Other featured screenings will include “Tecumseh” (2009), another forthcoming episode of the “We Shall Remain” series directed by Chris Eyre, Cheyenne/Arapaho; and the Nils Gaup classic, “Pathfinder” (1987), the first indigenous film nominated for an Academy Award. Gaup is a member of the Norwegian Sami community.

Other films to be screened include “Imprint” (2007), the story of a Lakota teen embroiled in a controversial murder trial; “A Thousand Roads” (2005), a film that follows the lives of four Indians living in New York, Alaska, New Mexico and Peru; “Always Becoming” (2007), a short film made by artist Nora Naranjo-Morse, Tewa/Santa Clara Pueblo, to introduce her sculpture to the Smithsonian; “Little Caughnawaga: To Brooklyn and Back” (2008), in which Reaghan Tarbell, Mohawk, relates the story of her family, Mohawk steelworkers in Brooklyn; “March Point” (2008), the story of three Swinomish teens who set out to make a gangster rap video, but instead end up investigating the negative impact of oil refineries on their tribal community; “Firekeepers” (2007), explores “joik,” an evolving mode of performance that is also a healing force for the Sami people of Norway; “Pirinop, My First Contact” (2007), a film that relates the consequences of contact and resettlement of the Ikpeng people of the Upper Xingu Reserve in Brazil as they work to gain control over their future; and “The Prize of the Pole” (2006), the story of an Inuit-American man attempting to reconcile his opposing cultural ties.

“Older than America” (2008), the story of a priest’s efforts to stop a young woman from revealing the truth about boarding school atrocities, will close the showcase. The film was directed by Georgina Lightning, Cree, and stars Wes Studi, Cherokee.

“This new partnership will help give filmmakers a seat at the table at Indian Market, which is recognized around the world as the most important venue for indigenous artists,” said Jason Silverman, CCA’s cinematheque director. “Including film continues Santa Fe Indian Market’s tradition of being a venue for the continuation of tradition, change and innovation,” added Bernstein.

Other program supporters include the Institute for American Indian Art, the Institute for Indigenous Language, the New Mexico Film Office, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and WGBH-TV.

For further information, see the showcase film schedule at or call the Center for Contemporary Arts at (505) 982-1338.