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Native Films Showcase at 2011 Sundance Festival

PARK CITY, Utah – Jan. 20 2011 – Seven short films and four feature films will debut at the Sundance Film Festival this year, marking a record number of screenings from Native filmmakers.

The Sundance Institute has announced details the Native films and events surrounding the annual Native Forum that will take place during the film festival, which runs from Jan. 20-30 in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The Native Forum is a cluster of events for the international indigenous film community that includes panel discussions, filmmaker discussions, and networking opportunities for indigenous filmmakers to share their expertise and experience with each other and the independent film community.

The festival also provides the venue for each year’s participants in the Native Lab Fellowship to meet with film professionals who advise them on the cinema business.

The fellowship program aims to provide support for emerging Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native filmmakers. Fellows are selected each year through an application process and participate in an intensive five-day workshop during the spring when they receive valuable feedback on their works-in-progress -- feature film scripts, documentary projects and short film scripts -- from screenwriters and directors.

Support for Native American and indigenous filmmaking was part of Sundance President and Founder Robert Redford’s original vision when he created the Sundance Institute in 1981.

“The Sundance Film Festival and Native American and Indigenous Initiative have had a great effect on Native American filmmaking second to nothing else in this country in terms of a national impact over the decades,” award-winning filmmaker Chris Eyre told Indian Country Today Media Network.

N. Bird Runningwater, associate director of the Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous Initiative, said that the Native forum “continues to raise the profile”of Native filmmakers and films.

“The Native Forum connects these filmmakers and their films with the marketplace of independent film. Through the film festival as well as the labs, workshops and other programs, Sundance Institute brings together the writers, directors and producers of Native and Indigenous Cinema as part of a global filmmaking community,” Bird Runningwater said.

This year’s indigenous filmmakers come from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States. They represent 11 Native communities including Tsilhqot'in, Métis, Ng?ti Rangi, Atihaunui a Paparangi, Navajo Nation, Hopi, Laguna Pueblo, Iñupiaq, Taranaki/Ngati Tama Ngati Mutunga, Native Hawaiian and M?ori.


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?E?anx (The Cave) / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Helen Haig-Brown [Tsilhqot'in]) - A hunter on horseback accidentally discovers a portal to the afterlife in this fantastical version of a true Tsilhqot'in story. Short Film Competition

Choke / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Michelle Latimer [Métis]) - Upon leaving his First Nations reserve, Jimmy encounters the lost souls of the city and is reminded that no matter how far you travel, you cannot escape who you are. Short Film Competition

The Devil’s Double / Belgium (Director: Lee Tamahori [M?ori] Screenwriter: Michael Thomas) — An extraordinary chapter in recent history providing a chilling vision of the House of Saddam comes to life through the eyes of the man who knew too much. Cast: Dominic Cooper, Ludivine Sagnier, Mimoun Oaissa, Raad Rawi, Philip Quast. Premieres

Ebony Society / Aotearoa-New Zealand (Director and Screenwriter: Tammy Davis [Ng?ti Rangi & Atihaunui a Paparangi]) - One night out stealing; two boys learn a lesson. Short Film Competition

GRAB / USA (Director: Billy Luther [Navajo, Hopi, Laguna Pueblo]) — Three families in the Laguna Pueblo tribe prepare for Grab Day, when they throw groceries from a rooftop to the community waiting below – an annual community-wide prayer of abundance, thanks and renewal. Documentary, narrated by Parker Posey. Native Showcase

Mad Bastards / Australia (Director: Brendan Fletcher; Screenwriters: Brendan Fletcher in collaboration with Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait and John Watson) — In a frontier town of northern Australia’s Kimberley Region, an urban street warrior meets his match in a local cop. Performances and stories from real people in Kimberley are woven through the music of legendary Broome musicians, The Pigram Brothers. Cast: Dean Daley-Jones, Greg Tait, John Watson, Ngaire Pigram, Lucas Yeeda. World Cinema Dramatic Competition

On the Ice / USA (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Okpeaha MacLean [Iñupiaq]) — On the snow-covered Arctic tundra, two teenagers try to get away with murder. Cast: Josiah Patkotak, Frank Qutuq Irelan, Teddy Kyle Smith, Adamina Kerr, Sierra Jade Sampson. U.S. Dramatic Competition

Redemption / Aotearoa-New Zealand (Director: Katie Wolfe [Taranaki/Ngati Tama Ngati Mutunga]; Co-Screenwriters: Tim Balme, Renae Maihi [Nga Puhi/Ngati Hine, Te Arawa/Ngati Wakaue], and Katie Wolfe based on the short story by Phil Kawana [Ngaruahinerangi, Ngati Ruanui, Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Rangitane]) A boy. A girl. A step too far. Short Film Competition

The Rocket Boy / USA (Director and Screenwriter: Donavan Seschillie [Navajo Nation]) - A young boy's limitless imagination creates a dilemma between reality and dreams. Short Film Competition

Stones / USA (Director and Screenwriter: Ty Sanga [Native Hawaiian]) - Set in the ancient times in the islands of Hawai'i, a forlorn woman living in isolation with her husband meets a child from a nearby village and contemplates whether she should bring her into her mystical world. Short Film Competition

Wapawekka / Canada (Director and Screenwriter: Danis Goulet [Métis]) - A final visit to their isolated cabin in northern Canada reveals the inter-generational rift between Josh and his traditional Cree father. Short Film Competition