Skip to main content

'Te Ata' to shine light on Chickasaw actress at Bentonville Film Festival

“Te Ata,” based on the inspirational true story of Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher, is among the elite films selected for competition at the Bentonville (Arkansas) Film Festival (BFF).

The first public screening of “Te Ata” will be 1:30 p.m., May 4 at BFF, a week long film festival which champions women and diverse voices in media.

Produced by the Chickasaw Nation, the feature film shines a light on the remarkable life of the Chickasaw storyteller best known by her stage name, Te Ata, which means “bearer of the morning.” 

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said that Te Ata was a great ambassador for Chickasaw people and all Native Americans.

Photo by Matika Wilbur

“Starflower Montoya,” Digueno Barona) and Taos Pueblo, 2013.

“Te Ata brought the beauty and wisdom of Native American culture to the world in a way that helped develop greater appreciation for core values such as basic human kindness and respect for the natural world,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We became involved in filmmaking because we believe it is important to tell our own story. We made this film to share the legacy of a remarkable Chickasaw woman with audiences around the world.”

Scroll to Continue

Read More

Based on her remarkable life and legacy, “Te Ata” shares her story of breaking cultural barriers and changing public perception during a storied career which spanned from the 1920s through the 1980s.
Directed by Nathan Frankowski and produced by Paul Sirmons, several award-winning Native American actors help bring the story based on Te Ata’s life to the silver screen.

Q'orianka Kilcher is Te Ata and Gil Birmingham is cast as Te Ata’s father, Thomas Benjamin (T.B.) Thompson. 
Both Kilcher and Birmingham are expected to attend the May 4 “Te Ata” BFF screening and take part in the post-screening panel, along with producer Paul Sirmons.

Malarie Drake, of Dover, Arkansas, who plays Te Ata’s sister, Avis Thompson; is also scheduled to attend the screening.
Oscar-nominee Graham Greene who plays Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglas H. Johnston; Brigid Brannagh, who is cast as Te Ata’s mother; and MacKenzie Astin who plays Te Ata’s husband, renowned scientist and anthropologist Dr. Clyde Fisher.

A question and answer session is planned after the Bentonville screening.

For more information about “Te Ata” the movie, visit, Facebook page or “@TeAtaMovie” on Twitter and Instagram. Connect with “Te Ata” social media on all platforms using #TeAtaMovie.

About the Chickasaw Nation
With more than 60,000 citizens, the Chickasaw Nation is the 12th largest federally-recognized Native American tribe in the United States. The Chickasaw Nation has an annual economic impact of more than $2.4 billion in Oklahoma. The tribe has more than 13,000 employees. A democratic republic with executive, legislative and judicial departments, the tribe's jurisdictional territory includes all or part of 13 counties in south-central Oklahoma.

About Bentonville Film Festival (BFF)
Founded by Academy Award Winner Geena Davis and festival co-founder Trevor Drinkwater in 2015, BFF’s mission is to champion women and diverse voices in media.

BFF is a research based and commercial focused platform that proactively supports diverse storytellers. 
BFF features the only film competition in the world that offers guaranteed distribution to its winning films to include a theatrical release in partnership with AMC theaters, television in partnership with STARZ and LIFETIME and digital and retail home entertainment distribution in partnership with Wal-Mart. The Festival takes place each year in early May in Bentonville, Arkansas.