Indigenous Film+ Online started at the end of August 2020. What a year it’s been!

Film Festivals and media organizations continue to offer Indigenous programs online. There is an increase in both hybrid festivals and completely in-person ones. As this change happens, Indigenous Film+ Online will continue its focus on online access to Indigenous film and media, including festivals and filmmaker conversations and other Indigenous cultural events streaming, but include in-person events as well.


New Mexico is More Than Desert - online
Vision Maker Media
August 19 – August 22

In partnership with SWAIA and its annual market in Santa Fe, Vision Maker Media is presenting a weekend of free online streaming featuring six Native American films from the southwest region of the United States to explore the histories and identities of the southwest tribes through themes of activism, traditions, women’s empowerment, history, and health & wellness.

For more information about screenings to to VMM website. 

Opening Scene: An Evening of Native Shorts – in-person
Jean Cocteau Cinema
Santa Fe
Friday, August 20, 5:30 pm

A program of recent works, curated by media artist and composer Raven Chacon, is being screened during SWAIA’s Indian Market in Santa Fe.

  • Yootó Hahoodzo | 2020 | Blackhorse Lowe
  • Waabanishimo: Miigadaan | 2017 | Eve-Lauryn LaFountain
  • The Museum of the Lost and Found: gaakaazootaadiwag | 2020 | Olivia Shortt
  • They Came on Ships! | 2020 | Erik Sanchez
  • A Song Often Played On The Radio | 2019 | Raven Chacon and Cristobal Martinez
  • Halpate | 2020 | Adam Piron and Adam Khalil

Indigenous Film Series – online monthly
Produced by the International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management
Denver, Colorado
Wednesday, September 8, 7:00 – 8:15 pm MDT

Karlu Karlu: Devil’s Marbles Director: David Trantor. Cinematographer: Warwick Thornton (Kaytetye). The film depicts the 28-year campaign of Jampin Blackhat (one of the last of a long line of traditional owners) and other elders to regain ownership of Karlu Karlu, an area of huge boulders with great spiritual and cultural significance. Karlu Karlu was a meeting place for Aboriginal peoples of many language groups, all of whom shared responsibility for the place. Their journey included a quest for return of a boulder, wrenched from Karlu Karlu to embellish a gravesite. Jampin Blackhat tells us dreamtime stories associated with Karlu Karlu, of the old ones no longer there; of his fight to have the country returned to the traditional owners of the land, and shares insights into Aboriginal perspectives on the land. ‘My Grandfather said to me, “This is your country. Keep it – it’s yours. So you can show them- teach them so they can learn when you sing for them in initiation. You can teach them about this place.’ ” Following the film is a live discussion moderated by Mervyn Tano, President, IIIRM. This program is hosted by Denver Museum of Natural History in conjunction with the exhibit Stonehenge: Ancient Mysteries and Modern Discoveries. Zoom is free, but RSVP is required.

Additional info: and Facebook/Indigenous Film & Arts Festival or email:

For an intimate profile of Warwick Thornton, here is an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald in 2020.


31st Presence autochtone/Montreal’s First Peoples Festival Awards

Teueikan Prize/Creation

First prize: Luiz Bolognesi for A última floresta/The Last Forest. This documentary about life in a Yanomami community in Brazil also includes lively enactments of important mythological stories. The film was co-written by the director with leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, who is featured in the community and in his work as the foremost international spokesperson for their fight to preserve their environment against the invasions of gold prospectors.

Second prize: Maya Da-Rin for A febre/The Fever. A meditative feature about an Indigenous family in Manaus, Brazil, focused on middle-aged Justino (Regis Myrupu) who works as a security guard at a cargo port. His daughter wins a scholarship and will move away for medical school, he comes down with a fever, and a mysterious animal begins to appear in the woods.

Best cinematography: Viviana Gomez Echeverry in Entre Fuego y Agua/Between Fire and Water (also directed by Echeverry). A documentary about a young Afro-Colombian man adopted into an Indigenous family in southwest Colombia who yearns to seek out his background, with beautifully evocative filming of the place where he has grown up and the city by the sea where he may discover his birth mother.

Rigoberta Menchú Prize/Community
First prize: ¿Qué les pasó a las abejas? What Happened to the Bees? by Adriana Otero and Robin Canul is a film on the mobilization of Mayan communities in Campeche against the practices of Monsanto and the devastating impact of their agro-chemicals on bee populations on which avocados and other crops depend.

Second prize: Ataguttaaluk-A Life to Live For by Carol Kunnuk, tells the story of an Inuk woman who survived a terrible famine to become one of the most important residents of Igloolik. 

APTN Prize - an Indigenous filmmaker who has distinguished herself/himself during the year.
First prize: Kim O’bomsawin for Josephine Bacon: I am Human
Special mention: Tracey Deer for Beans

Main Film – International Award for Indigenous Achievement
First prize: Haudenosaunee Canoe Journey by Roxann Whitebean
Special mention: Lake by Alexandra Lazarowich

Best Documentary
First prize: Quchiwato maldito by Roberto de la Puente
Special Mention: Out of State by Ciara Lacy

Best Canadian Short Film/CBC Espaces autochtones Award with $1,000 cash prize
Nâdu by Jarret Twoyoungmen

Best International Short
Liliu by Jeremiah Tauamiti

Best Animated Film
Y asi apareciero los rios by Miguel Araoz Cartagena

Panorama Grant of $1,500 awarded to Niap Sanders

48th National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

Daytime Emmy Award Nomination
Nominated for “Outstanding Younger Performer in a Daytime Fiction Series” is 16-year-old Isaac Arellanes (Hopi) for his role as Ruben Reyna in the Apple TV+ series Ghostwriter. Arellanes has also played roles in the TV series Euphoria and the recent film Blue Miracle.

Vision Maker Media Public Media Fund Awards

Vision Maker Media has announced its 2021 awards granted to new Native American productions for PBS television broadcasting. The filmmakers represent 23 different Native nations with a total $841,522 in funding support--up to $150,000 in support for episodic programming and production, up to $100,000 for post-production, and between $5,000 to $25,000 for research and development. The films funded are at all stages of the production process, with some still in research while others are nearing the end of production

#MMIW: Search for Truth (working title). For production. Feature documentary. Executive producer/Director: Amanda Erickson (San Carlos Apache). Executive producers: Sarah V. Burns, Alex Sherratt. An Indigenous woman’s search to uncover the details of her sister’s death.

Alchesay. For research and development. Feature documentary. Director: Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache). Producer: Mari Keiko Gonzalez. The untold story of the first Apache Scouts.

And Knowledge to Keep Us. For production. Episodic series. Producer/Director/Director of photography: Torsten Kjellstrand. Producer/Cinematographer: Sven Haakanson, Jr., PhD. (Sugpiaq, Athabaskan). Producer: Mark Blaine. Alaska Native kids gather to connect with and celebrate their Sugpiaq ancestral knowledge.

Apache 8: Beyond the Fire. For production. Documentary short. Executive producer: Heather Rae. Producer/Director: Sande Zeig. Producer: Katy Aday (White Mountain Apache)

Drowned Land. For production. Feature documentary. Director/Producer: Colleen Thurston (Choctaw). Producer: Michelle Svenson. Deep in the Choctaw Nation of rural Oklahoma, a group of water protectors fights to preserve the lifeline of their community.

Good Fire. For production. Documentary short. Director/Cinematographer: Marissa Lila. Producer/Writer: Roni Jo Draper (Yurok). Producer: Jenn Lee Smith. Disputing the notion that fire as our enemy.

Indigenous Genders (working title). For research and development. Episodic series. Executive producer: Ciara Lacey (Kanaka Maoli). Writer/Director: Raven Two Feathers (Cherokee, Seneca, Cayuga, Comanche). Producer: Mari Keiko Gonzalez. A documentary series to explore gender norms through Indigenous lenses.

Kanen’onwe – Original Seeds. For production. Feature documentary. Producer/Director/Writer: Katsitsionni Fox (Mohawk). Producer: Katja Essen. Cinematographer: Jaidon Mitchell (Mohawk). Indigenous women seed keepers work for future generations.

Navajo Doctors Project (working title). For production. Feature documentary. Director/Producer: Billy Luther (Navajo, Hopi, Laguna Pueblo). Doctors on the Navajo Nation work through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Bears on Pine Ridge. For post-production. Feature documentary. Executive producer: Sonny Skyhawk (Sigangu Lakota). Director: Noel Bass. A tribe’s suicide prevention team mentors young suicide-survivors.

The Land Returns. For production. Feature documentary. Co-producer/Director: Charles “Boots” Kennedye (Kiowa). Co-producer: Kevin Abourazk (Rosebud Lakota). Co-producer: Margaret Jacobs. Pathways by which Indigenous peoples are regaining their lands.

The Salmon People. For production. Feature documentary. Executive Producer/Co-director: Darrell Hillaire (Lummi). Writer/Co-director: Beth Pielert. Story consultant/Narrator: Jay Jalius (Lummi). Lummi Nation confronts the drastic decline of wild salmon that is threatening their way of life.

Tiny Tot Nation. For research and development. Animated short. Producer/Director/Writer Yvonne Russo (Sicangu Lakota). Associate producer: Reuben Fast Horse (Standing Rock Lakota). Animator: Eric Peck. An adventure to find a lost moccasin in time for the Christmas Powwow.

(Untitled). For research and development. Documentary short. Producer: Stacey Rice (Tuscarora). Producer: Lindsey Ashley. The Tuscarora Nation faces an ongoing water crisis outside of Niagara Falls.


New Native Theater – in-person, outdoors
Thursday, September 2 – Sunday, September 19

New Native Theatre returns to in-person theater with the outdoor production of Yvette Nolan’s play The Unplugging, directed by NNT’s Artistic Director, Rhiana Yazzie. The play features an American Indian and BIPOC cast including Christina Woods (Bois Forte Ojibwe), Alicia Garcia (Taos Pueblo), Alicia Smith (Yup’ik), Lyz Jaakola (Fond du Lac), Raymond Niu, and Joshua Simpson. The Unplugging tells the story of two Native women exiled from their village because they are past child-bearing age in a post-apocalyptic world where the “lights go out.” They rely on their ancestral knowledge to survive. But when a stranger from their village seeks their help, the women must decide if they will use their knowledge to help the society that rejected them.

A Conversation with Wes Studi – in-person
Eiteljorg Museum
September 12, 2:00 – 3:00 pm CDT

Wes Studi (Cherokee) credits his passion and multi-faceted background—from small-town Oklahoma native to internationally acclaimed actor and musician—for his powerful character portrayals that forever changed a Hollywood stereotype. Within a few years of his arrival in Hollywood, Studi caught the attention of the public in Dances with Wolves (1990). In 1992, his powerful performance as Magua in The Last of the Mohicans (1992) established him as one of the most compelling actors in the business.” In 2019 Studi became the first Native American to win an Academy Award. A Q&A will follow. Ticket cost is included with general admission. Free for members. Due to capacity limitations, tickets must be pre-purchased or reserved in advance.


The independent film and public television community mourns the passing of Leanne Kaʻiulani Ferrer, the Executive Director of Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). An award-winning filmmaker with 30 years of experience in the film and television industry, Leanne led PIC for more than a decade, building partnerships and networks as well as developing robust support for Pacific Islanders in film. Leanne was a Fellow in the Chief Executive Program of the National Arts Strategies, the Board President for Hawai‘i Woman in Filmmaking, on the Good Pitch Local-Hawai'i Steering Committee and a juror for the Festival International du Film documentaire Océanien (FIFO) in Tahiti. A tireless leader and advocate and a wonderful friend, Leanne will be greatly missed.

On May 1 Leanne participated in a filmmaker conversation that was part of the Spring Showcase of the San Diego Asian Film Festival, on “Sovereign Cinema: The Political Documentary of Nā Maka O Ka ‘Āina,” the film work of Puhipau and Joan Lander, which can be watched below.


Items posted here, including Collections and V-O-D below, remain online after their initial presentation. Although streamed film programs may have an end date, most streamed conversations and talks continue. Conversations and some works are available online for free but for films there can be third party platforms, like Amazon or iTunes, that charge a rental or require membership. What is ongoing online provides a way to access the latest Indigenous films and media, current conversations about the impact and creativity of Indigenous film, and resources in the field. 

6th Mother Tongue Film Festival
Smithsonian Institution

The Mother Tongue Film Festival, organized by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, National Museum of the American Indian and Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world, highlighting the crucial role languages play in our daily lives.

The 2021 festival was online from February 21 through May, and filmmaker conversations with curators remain online. In addition the Smithsonian Folklife Center’s online magazine has a playlist featuring 12 short animations by Indigenous filmmakers or created in collaboration with Indigenous communities and arts organizations. Works come from various regions including Australia, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Mexico and the US and are told in English, Spanish, and Indigenous languages including Balinese, Dalabon, Diné, Haida, Mapudungun, Otelo Ni’ihau Hawaiian, and Cmique Iitom. Some stories traditionally told in winter are no longer available. animation

Watch Now: DCEFF Online
Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital

The DCEFF offers on its website a selection of titles from its 29 past film festivals, held annually in March, that are now available for streaming. Many short films are free. Others may be available from third-party providers such as Vimeo or Amazon. Some available titles with Indigenous themes are listed below.

From 2021 DCEFF:

Border Nation Documentary short. US. Jason Jaacks. Today, Tohono O’odham tribal members live on both sides of the US/Mexican border. But with an increasingly militarized border, can their traditional way of life survive?

Gather Documentary feature. US. Sanjay Rawal. The stories of Native Americans on the frontlines of a growing movement to reconnect with spiritual and cultural identities through food. A Indigenous chef embarks on a ambitious project to reclaim ancient food ways on the Apache reservation. In South Dakota a gifted Lakota high school student, raised on a buffalo ranch, is proving her tribe’s native wisdom through her passion for science. In northern California a group of young Yurok men struggle to keep their culture alive and rehabilitate the habitat of their sacred salmon.

Along the Winisk River Documentary short. Canada. Janna Kyllästinen In Canada, a remote Indigenous community is fighting for its survival in the age of climate change. Extreme weather, changes in ice formation, and wildfires have made hunting and gathering for traditional food more and more dangerous and difficult. As the community comes together to embark on a caribou hunt in the freezing subarctic winter, the film explores the impact of this struggle and calls for the government of Canada to better protect Indigenous communities. 

More Indigenous features:

  • The Eagle Huntress
  • The Guardians
  • Yasuni Man

More Indigenous short films:

  • Pacha Kuti: The Golden Path
  • L’Eau Est La Vie: From Standing Rock to the Swamp
  • Water Flows Together
  • Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee


National Film Board of Canada’s Indigenous Cinema Catalogue
Online access to more than 350 Indigenous films produced by the NFB between1968 and 2019. 

In addition NFB has produced with imagineNATIVE Institute Equity in Film: NFB Indigenous Action Plan

Here is a summary of key results of the Plan in 2019-2020 and a link to a media production guide to protocols to follow when working in film with First Nations, Metis and Inuit communities and their stories.

  • 19 percent of works were directed by Indigenous filmmakers
  • 15 percent of production spending was on works by indigenous creators
  • 16 works produced that explore Indigenous issues.
  • Indigenous employees represented 0.8 percent of all NFB staff, with the NFB committed to achieving a minimum of 4 percent Indigenous representation by 2025.
  • Indigenous Cinema, the NFB’s rich online collection of Indigenous-made films, now features more than 350 titles free online and reached 323,190 views.
  • Over 1,500 community screenings to date as part of the Aabiziingwashi (Wide Awake) NFB Indigenous cinema tour
  • Production of the Learning Lodge, an online educational experience providing Indigenous perspectives on history and culture, crafted with Indigenous experts. Launch: Spring 2021
  • Partnered with imagineNATIVE on the production and launch of On-Screen Protocols & Pathways: A Media Production Guide to Working with First Nations, Métis and Inuit Communities, Cultures, Concepts and Stories.

The NFB is completing an assessment of results to date for this Indigenous Action Plan (2017–2020) as well as upcoming action on the plan’s 33 commitments.


The remarkable team at Isuma has put at the center both making outstanding and award-winning productions with strong Inuit perspectives, and using technology to give broad access to film in Indigenous communities on ever-evolving platforms. Isuma’s innovative use of technology for Indigenous purposes has created a model both for direct access to the points of view of Indigenous community members and creators and for distribution to remote communities.

On Isuma’s website there are 6 different areas of their work explored. It includes the history of the founding of the film production company by Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, Paul Apak Angilirq (1954–1998) and Pauloosie Qulitalik (1939-2012). Known originally as Igloolik Isuma, and reorganized as Kinguliit Productions and Isuma Distribution Company, it was created to produce and distribute independent Inuit-language films and media art from an Inuit point of view, featuring local actors and set often in the Igloolik region in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, periods of enormous interventions in Inuit life in Canada’s far north.

These films include Atarnajuat/The Fast Runner (winner of Camera d’Or prize at Cannes) and most recently A Day in the Life of Noah Piugattuk (selected to represent Canada in its pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale). The Isuma Collection of features is available in many languages for educational and theatrical purchase and screenings.

Isuma is deeply committed to making Indigenous film accessible. Five online platforms are available via its website, with possibilities for different audiences and with maximum attention to wide access, especially by remote communities.

Isuma on iTunes. A collection of Isuma, Arnait (see below) and other Indigenous-language feature films can be accessed on iTunes in 30 countries with subtitles in English, Italian, French, Spanish and German. The films are available for online viewing or purchase at a modest fee.

IsumaTV Online

More than 7850 Indigenous Films in 71 Languages. The name of the IsumaTV website is taken from this remarkable commitment. This features the complete archive of Igloolik’s Inukitut video production since 1985 along with 7,000 more international Indigenous films. To enhance access, the project has provided local servers to remote Inuit communities to make IsumaTV available in regions where high-cost and low-bandwidth prevent fair access to internet media. You can search the whole archive, explore videos by selected topics, view recommended videos and channels, and by scrolling to the bottom of the page, view a list of the more than 70 languages represented in the repository. Inuktitut and English are by far the most common, but there is content from around the world.

IsumaTV Live! The focus is on community viewpoints and includes webcam streams from communities like Silikut where mining operations are being proposed and live broadcasts, such as "Nunagijavut | Where We Live Now" a live video series exploring contemporary Inuit experience through the eyes of Inuit artists, activists and community members.

Isuma’s Online Exhibition. Isuma's exhibition at the 58th Biennale di Venezia has a parallel exhibition accessible to anyone with an internet connection. It includes footage drawn from the newest feature, A Day In the Life of Noah Piugattuk, and the webcam footage of “inform and consent” discussions 58 years later about proposed resource projects in the exact same location (see DID below)

Digital Indigenous Democracy, an experimental internet network was created in 2012 to inform and consult Inuit in low-bandwidth communities facing development from the Baffinland Iron Mine and other resource projects. By being in Inuktitut, this network helped define standards of ‘inform and consult’ in indigenous communities now required by Canadian and international law when development projects are being decided. 

Arnait Video Productions

The goal of Arnait Video Productions (originally the Women’s Video Workshop of Igloolik) is to draw from the unique culture and voices of Inuit women and represent their perspectives and values within the larger national and international community through screenings and digital access. Founded in 1991 by Marie-Hélène Cousineau, Madeline Ivalu, Susan Avingaq, and Atuat Akkitirq, the collective originated for women to share oral traditions, whether in interviews or as short works linking songs to reenactments of traditional activities.

Their work now includes feature narrative and documentary production. Always in touch with its community, Arnait’s work can be seen as similar in strategy to Isuma, but with a major difference—all decisions and key roles of writing, production design, directing are performed by women. Their first feature film, Before Tomorrow, won Best Canadian First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for nine Canadian Genie awards. Their feature documentary SOL won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Documentary in 2016. The production team has also expanded to include producer/writer/director Lucy Tulugarjuk, also a founder of the youth drama group in Igloolik that became Artcirq. Arnait's video art, animation, fiction features, television programs, and documentaries are found via their own website, feature films are available on Isuma on iTunes and other work on Arnait’s channel on IsumaTV