Film festivals now are deciding whether to continue in-person or to continue virtually, the strategy for reaching audiences for the past two years. In this column we’ve provided listings for both online festivals and Video On Demand available nationally or internationally and in-person festivals or those online only in specific regions. Full Frame, NMAI, and DCEFF’s Watch Now have online programs. Netflix is saying goodbye soon to one of its Indigenous features, and a new episodic comedy has been launched, with Taika Waititi as a producer and lead.
Local/regional festivals include California’s American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival, Chicago Latino Film Festival, and the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival. Spiderwoman Theater concludes its run of a new play in NYC.
April is National Poetry Month and online poetry readings and talks about being poets are listed, as well as a discussion with artist Duane Slick. Awards and Honors focus on winners at three March events, SXSW Film Festival and SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas, and FICWallmapu, an extensive film festival in Mapuche territory in Chile.
FILM FESTIVALS and V-O-D
April 7 - 10. Tickets and passes. Online
All films will be available to watch from Thursday, April 7 at 12 PM (EDT) through Sunday, April 10 at 11:59 PM (EDT), or until a film reaches capacity.
This film festival, usually held in-person in Durham, North Carolina, is online again this year. Single tickets are $12 for features, $8 for short films, and all-access festival passes are also on sale. Tickets are purchased through the Duke University Box Office. Two fine Indigenous-themed films are part of this year’s offerings, and both are available online only in the US.
The Territory Feature documentary. Brazil, Denmark, US. Alex Pritz. Executive producer: Darren Aronofsky. When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes an area of protected Indigenous territory, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must find new ways to fight back. “The documentary’s title refers to a 7,000-square-mile region in the Brazilian state of Rondônia, sovereign land of the Uru-eu-wau-wau and other Indigenous groups. With a profound connection to the land, animals and rivers, they’ve lived there for generations, but it wasn’t until 1981 that their first contact with the outside world occurred. They’ve been on the defensive ever since, as agribusiness, farming, logging and ranching interests encroach upon their home. Numbering fewer than 200 and led by a forward-thinking young man, the Uru-eu-wau-wau became partners in Pritz’s filmmaking process, shooting portions of the doc, an approach that became a necessity in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic.” The Hollywood Reporter.
ᎤᏕᏲᏅ (What They’ve Been Taught) Documentary short. US. Brit Hensel. Filmed on the Qualla Boundary and Cherokee Nation, the film explores expressions of reciprocity in the Cherokee world, brought to life through a story told by an elder and first language speaker This film was created in collaboration with independent artists from both the Cherokee Nation and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.
Center for Media, Culture and History
Indigenous Artists Expanding the Form of Film
Friday, April 1, 5 pm - 7 pm EDT
Short films by COUSIN Collective founders Adam Khalil, Alex Lazarowich, Adam Piron and Sky Hopinka, followed by live discussion with the filmmakers moderated by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean, Professor at NYU Film & TV. RSVP to get the link on Zoom.
International Institute for Indigenous Resource Management
Presented by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Free but RSVP required to get the Zoom link.
Wednesday, April 13, 6 pm - 7:15 pm MDT
Two short films followed by live discussion and Q&A with director Zacharias Kunuk, moderated by Mervyn Tano, President of IIIRM.on Zoom.
River of Small Gods Bradley Tangonan (Filipino-American). On the brink of eviction, a Hawaiian woman takes a job to retrieve stones for a sculptor – a journey that takes her to a sacred riverbed where her material and spiritual needs converge. Tangonan presents a modern myth about alienation from the land and the consequences of denying our connection to it.
Angakakusajaujuq (The Shaman’s Apprentice) Animation. Zacharias Kunuk (Inuit). In Inuktitut with English subtitles. A young shaman must face her first test—a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, she must trust her mentor's teachings and learn to control her fear.
On HBO Max by subscription to HBO on cable or to HMO Max online
A comedy series loosely inspired by historic events stars Rhys Darby as Stede Bonnet, an unhappy aristocrat turned inept pirate captain, and Taika Waititi as the notorious Blackbeard. As The Hollywood Reporter writes “…it’s the arrival of the legendary pirate Blackbeard (Waititi) around episode four that steers Our Flag Means Death toward deeper, more mysterious waters…Blackbeard’s entrance reorients..the series…and the twisty relationship he forms with Stede becomes the narrative spine of the whole series…a wonderfully odd couple, Waititi’s kooky charisma playing off of Darby’s prim nervousness.”
Leaving March 30. On Netflix by subscription
Directed by Stephen Campanelli, this moving drama sheds light on the dark history of Canada’s residential schools and resilience. Seven-year-old Saul Indian Horse is placed in a residential school, where he suffers abuse. But when he shows a unique talent for hockey, he finds inner strength to face the trauma and obstacles of his past.
NMAI/National Museum of the American Indian
LAST DAY! March 31. Streaming online.
Without a Whisper: Konnon:Kwe. Documentary. US. 27 min. Katsitsionni Fox (Mohawk). The hidden history of the profound influence Haudenosaunee women had on the beginnings of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. Also link at the NMAI website to a taped panel discussion with Mohawk Bear Clan Mother Louise Herne and Professor Sally Roesch Wagner, who are featured in the film, and the director, Katsitsionni Fox, moderated by the director of programs at Vision Maker Media, Georgiana Lee-Ausun (Navajo).
A program of DCEFF/Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s CapitalTickets and free. Ongoing online.
DCEFF Watch Now is an online catalog listing hundreds of films with environmental topics that have screened in past festivlas and are available online, Many of the works stream for free from the website;. Some third party video providers — such as Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu — may require having an account with them or paying for access to their content.
16 feature-length documentaries and shorts in the “Indigenous Voices” section include:
Along the Winisk River 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.
Border Nation US. Jason Jaacks. 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?
Current Revolution: Nation in Transition US. Roger Sorkin. The film highlights the coal-to- renewables transition on the Navajo Nation and across northern Arizona through the stories of families, communities, tribal leaders and workers.
The Eagle Huntress Mongolia. Otto Bell. The isolated Kazakh tribe in northwestern Mongolia has a long tradition of hunting with eagles. Until now, not seen as a skill that Kazakh girls should learn.... A beautifully filmed and stirring documentary.
L’Eau Est La Vie: From Standing Rock to the Swamp US. Sam Vinal. What took shape on the Great Plains along the Missouri River continues downstream in the swamplands of Louisiana, in the homelands of the Houma, Chitimacha, and Chahta. L’Eau Est La Vie tells the story of the Indigenous women who occupy the resistance camp of the same name, to stop an Energy Transfers Project, what is in effect the tail end of the project that includes the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Gather US. Sanjay Rawal. Producers: Tanya Meilleur and Sterlin Harjo (Muscogee Creek). Produced by First Nations Institute. Examining the significance of food sovereignty and its connection to environmental security. Chef Nephi Craig (White Mountain Apache) has opened an indigenous café focused on Apache foods on his reservation. Scientist Elsie Dubray (Cheyenne River Sioux) conducts landmark studies of the buffalo. The Ancestral Guard, a group of Yurok environmental activists, are working to save the Klamath River.
The Guardians Mexico. Interweaving the lives of the threatened monarch butterfly with the stories of Purehepecha people who live close to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Preserve in Michaoacán where the butterflies overwinter after their 3,000 mile migration back.
Homecoming: Journey to Limuw US. Nick Zachar. In an annual event, Chumash people journey back to their historical village site on Limuw, now present-day Santa Cruz Island.
Koa Talking to Me US/Hawai’i. David Ehrenberg. This National Park Service film follows a Hawaiian man's love for one of the rarest and most threatened trees in the world. Junior's connection with koa trees on his native island compels him to honor the spirt of fallen trees that would normally be wasted. His way of using the trees connects him to one of the oldest Hawaiian traditions.
Matagi Malohi: Strong Winds US. Forest Woodward, Canyon Woodward & Aidan Haley. The Pacific Climate Warriors, born out of the low-lying Pacific Islands, is an Indigenous movement led by youth who now have been on the front lines of climate change for decades --- their rally cry is “we are not drowning, we are fighting.”
Nuuca Canada. Michelle Latimer. In addition to its impact on the land and threat to the Missouri River, the oil boom in North Dakota has brought in violence, especially violence against women, to the Mandan/Hidatsa community at Ft. Berthold.
One Word Salamen US. Michael “Pom” Preston (Winnemen Wintu). Sawalmem (“healing water”) represents to the filmmaker a vital vision for healing from the negative impact of the Shasta Dam.
Tupí: A Story of Indigenous Courage and Resolve Brazil. Pablo Albarengo and Francesc Badia I Damases. An episode in Open Democracy’s “Rainforest Defenders” series. A young Indigenous woman living in a village in the Tapajós-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Pará State in the Brazilian Amazon denounces violence against women and fights to protect human rights and the environment.
Water Flows Together US. Produced by American Rivers Created by SpruceTone Films. The film is a meditation on the relationship with the San Juan River which has been sacred to Dine for centuries, and explores both the barriers to their using the river and the viewpoint of a Navajo river guide who seeks to create positive change.
Welcome to Gwichyaa Zhee US. Greg Balkin and Len Necefer. Gwich’in in Alaska fight against oil and gas development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Yasuni Man Ecuador. Ryan Patrick Killackey. A filmmaker and biologist documents the staggering biodiversity of the Yasuni Biosphere in Amazonian Ecuador and the struggle of the Waorani who live there to preserve it against oil exploration, illegal deforestation, and their own government. .
FILM FESTIVALS and THEATER
In-Person / Online Regionally
April 2 - 3. Tickets. In person at Pechanga Resort Casino, Temecula, CA
This year’s 2-day festival features a live theater performance and the premier screening of a new documentary.
April 2 Bear Grease Written and directed by LightningCloud (MC RedCloud and Crystle Lightning) A theater performance combining hip-hop, parody, improv and freestyle. Says RedCloud: “It’s a decolonized version of Grease, you know, the classic we all grew up watching on TV.”
April 3 Imagining the Indian https://imaginingtheindianfilm.org Documentary feature. Ben West. An in-depth look at the fight against Native American mascoting and the movement to eradicate the words, images and gestures that many Indigenous Americans and their allies find offensive, and why it matters.
LAST DAY! March 27. Tickets. In-person in NYC
Directed by Muriel Miguel and presented by La MaMa ETC. Old spirits long ago silenced reveal themselves to present-day inhabitants of Turtle Island. Spiderwoman Theater, a multi-generational performing ensemble based in New York, with members from Indigenous communities across North America and internationally, specializes in “storyweaving.” In the play it knits together traditional and contemporary narratives, movement, and text--spoken, danced and sung--to reclaim, reimagine and revive missing stories, languages and identity.
April 7-11. Tickets. In-person in Palm Springs, California
Chasing Voices Documentary. US. 57 min. Daniel Golding (Quechan). Chasing Voices tells the story of the eccentric early 20th century ethnographer, John Peabody Harrington, and how Californian tribes are accessing his notes today—reviving their languages and bringing together a new generation of language learners.
Our Story Michael Ramsey, Daniel Tso (Navajo). Over 90% of the available lands in the Greater Chaco have already been leased for oil and gas extraction. Navajo and Pueblo leadership have been intimately collaborating to tell their stories in this film as they struggle to protect what little remains of this sacred landscape, including the World Heritage Site Chaco National Historical Park in the SW United States.
Powerlands Ivey-Camille Manybeads Tso (Navajo). The filmmaker investigates the displacement of Indigenous people in several countries, and devastation of the environment, caused by the same chemical companies that have exploited the land where she was born.
Rez Metal Ashkan Soltani Stone. The Grammy Award-winner producer of Metallica makes a debut album in iconic studios in Denmark with the Navajo band I Don’t Konform. The filmmaker is the co-author with Natale Zappia of Rez Metal: Inside the Navajo Nation Heavy Metal Scene.
Short documentaries and animations
- Ayoungman Holly Fortier, Larry Day
- Call of the Heart Harun Güler
- Cherokee Comedian Zebadiah Nofire Jeremy Charles
- Into The Circle Meg Griffiths, Scott Faris
- Johnny Crow Xstine Cook, Jesse Gouchev
- Keepers Of The Way Evan Cohen
- Lloyd "Kiva" New: An American Entrepreneur Nathaniel Fuentes
- Removal Doug McMains
- The Dukha (in Mongolia) Carmen Morrow, Zach Wolf
- Yupiit: Eye of Both Worlds Stephanie Alton
April 9–18. Tickets. In-person in Chicago and virtual in Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana.
Hatun Phaqcha, the Healing Land/Hatun Phaqcha, tierra sana Feature documentary. Peru. Delia Ackerman. Peru is a land of famed “superfoods” such as quinoa. It is also one of the countries with the highest rates of malnutrition, and the film pursues an investigation, interviewing Indigenous farmers about their resiliency and in pursuit of solutions.
Nudo Mixteco Feature narrative. Mexico. Ángeles Cruz (Mixtec). In Spanish and Quechua with English subtitles. The stories of three Mixtec women who return to their fictional town of San Mateo at the time to celebrate the patron saint. Determined to take control of their lives, they encounter their realities there and the film is a poignant tale about migration, poverty, and sexual identity.
Zahorí Feature narrative. Argentina, Switzerland, Chile, France. Marí Alessandrini. In Spanish with English subtitles. Mora, a young girl living in the Patagonian steppes with her Italian family, is bullied at school and finds friendship with Nazareno, an elderly Mapuche, who teaches her about essentials of life there. When Nazareno disappears while searching for his lost horse, Zahori, Mora with her little brother sets out on a journey across this imposing land to find him.
Maidenhood/La Baláhna Narrative short. Mexico. Xóchitl Enríquez Mendoza. In Zapoteco and Spanish with English titles. Submitted to the traditional examination, Catalina fails to demonstrate her chastity, raising the question of her future in the community.
Prairie Flowers/Flores de la llanura Documentary short. Mexico. Mariana X. Rivera. In Ñomndaa with English Subtitles. After the murder of Silvia, her cousin and other weavers from the Prairie of Flowers create a ritual of mourning and take action against violence against women, with hopes of healing and moving forward.
Yagán Lessons/Twakana Yagán Documentary short. Argentina. Rodrigo Tenuta, Ignacio Leonidas. In Yagan and Spanish with English subtitles. In Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, is the Yagán Paiakoala community, descendents of the first people who inhabited the southernmost islands of South America. Two brothers speak, teach, and remember the Yagán language and the songs of their grandfather as they ride their horses through the harsh landscape on a journey of ancestral reflection.
Upcoming Festivals with Indigenous Films
- Seattle International Film Festival. April 14 – 24. In-person in Seattle and virtually on the SFF Channel
- NMAI Living Earth Festival. April 22 - May 15. Online
- Hot Docs Festival. April 28 – May 8. In-person in Toronto and online in Canada
- Sarasota Native American Film Festival. April 29 - May 7. In-person in Sarasota and online.
April 7, 6:00 pm EDT. Tickets $10. Free for members.
A virtual panel with live Q&A during the exhibition Duane Slick: The Coyote Makes the Sunset Better at The Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The artist Duane Slick is in conversation with Native American Studies scholar Dr. Cutcha Risling Baldy, and Dr. Jon Way, founder of Eastern Coyote/Coywolf Research. The panel will be moderated by Richard Klein, Exhibitions Director and curator of the exhibition.
Art historian Nicole Dawn Strathman, professor at UC-Riverside and author of Through a Native Lens: American Indian Photography, speaks about the work and impact of the Native American pioneers of photography. Free. Presented live on Zoom on March 22 by the MFA Program in Photography, Video and Related Media, School of Visual Arts, NY, NY.
APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH
“National Poetry Month 2021: 5 Indigenous Poets Who Dare to Reimagine the Native Experience” by Hannah Eko, in Colorlines, April 19, 2021.
Poet Natalie Diaz, “We are stories. Even our names are stories.”
Brief profiles and short and long selections of poems by poets Layli Long Soldier (Oglala Sioux), Tommy Pico(Kumeyaay). Natalie Diaz (Mojave, Mexican-American), Jake Skeets (Dine) and jay simpson (Sapotaweyak Cree Nation).
Friday, April 1, 1-2 pm EDT. Free. Prior online registration required
Young Indigenous poets use written and spoken words to express their worldviews and advocate for personal and community needs. In celebration of the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo (Mvskoke [Creek] Nation), Native youth share how this “poet and champion of justice” has inspired their own writings. This event features poets Sareya Taylor (White Mountain Apache/Diné), Kinsale Drake (Diné) and jaye simpson (Sapotaweyak Cree Nation), moderated by Kelly Caballero (Tongva). Part of NMAI’s Youth in Action: Conversations about Our Future series, which features young Indigenous activists and changemakers from across the Western Hemisphere who are working towards equity and social justice for Indigenous peoples. The program will be available on demand after it premieres.
Academy of American Poets
Dear Poet Project - 2 Indigenous Poets
Every National Poetry Month, the Academy presents Dear Poet, an interactive education project within a rich website that invites young people in grades five through twelve to write letters in response to poems written and read by award-winning poets.
M.L. Smoker Reads, "Book of Missing, Murdered and Indigenous-Chapter 1"
M.L. Smoker (Assiniboine and Sioux) is one of two Montana poets laureate asked to share the position of Poet Laureate Fellows of the Academy of American Poets. “Our intention was to serve as an example of people working together, creatively and collaboratively, across generations and cultures, toward common goals.” Her fellow Academy Poet Laureate is Melissa Kwasny. Interview by poets.org in March 2022
2021 Laura Tohe Reads, “For Kathryn”
Laura Tohe (Diné) is a Poets Laureate Fellow of the Academy of American Poets and the 2020 Poet Laureate of the Navajo Nation. She is the author of many works, including Tseyí / Deep in the Rock, Making Friends with Waterand Code Talker Stories. She is co-editor of Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community. Read this poem here and more poems by this poet here.
AWARDS AND HONORS
The 7th version of this festival, customarily held in November in Temuco in Mapuche territory in southern Chile, was both in Temuco and online this year March 15-19, screening 65 films, 47 of them with directors of Indigenous or Afrodiasporic descent. Videos from the opening and closing night events are available on its YouTube channel. Opening night also featured the screening of Zacharias Kunuk’s most recent film, Angakakusajaujuq/The Shaman’s Apprentice and closing night featured a performance by the Quechua soprano, Sylvia Falcón.
The festival has announced the following award winners in 11 categories, selected by international juries.
Categoría Identidades en movimiento/Identities across borders
Winner: Jisk’a Pacha/Pequeño tiempo/Little Time Jhonny Rodrigo Marino Sánchez. Aymara People
Honorable Mention: Solo el mar nos separa/Only the Ocean Separates Us Karoli Bautista Pizarro, Christy Cauper Silvano, Khaldiya Amer Ali, Marah Mohammad Alkhateeb.Two Shipibo Konibo filmmakers in Lima, and two Syrian filmmakers in refugee camp in Lebanon share video letters.
Categoría Cine Comunitario/Community Film
Winner: Noñantarí. Produced by a collective of young Asháninka with CHIRAPAQ. Ashaninka People
Categoría Defensa del Territorio/Defending the Territory
Winner, Feature Film: Nũhũ Yãg Mũ Yõg Hãm/¡Esta tierra es nuestra!/This land is ours! Isael Maxakali, Sueli Maxakali,Carolina Canguçu, Roberto Romero. Maxakali People
Winner, Short film: Püchikalu Inche/Cuando era chicx/When I Was a Girl Gabriel Huaracán. Mapuche People
Categoría Mujeres Indígenas y Afrodescendientes/Indigenous and
Winner: Negra/Black. Medhin Tewolde Serrano. Afrodiasporic
Honorable Mention: Noñantarí. Produced by a collective of young Asháninka with CHIRAPAQ. Ashaninka People
Reconocimiento Categoría Lengua/Language Prize
Winner: Cuando cierro los ojos/When I Close My Eyes Michelle Ibaven, Sergio Blanco. Mazatec, Mixtec Peoples
Reconocimiento Wallmapu/Wallmapu Prize
Winner: Maria Sojob for Tote/Abuelo/Grandfather. Tsotsil People
Honorable Mention: Luzbeidy Monterrosa Atencio, Olowaili Green Santacruz for Muu Palaa/La abuela Mar. Wayuu/Gunadule People
Honorable Mention: Isabelle Kanape for Ka Tatishtipatakanit. Innu People
Categoría Artes y Nuevas Narrativas/Arts and New Narratives
Winner: Chichi 'ales José López Arámburo. Yaqui People
Honorable Mention: La raíz es más importante que la flor/The Root is More Important than the Flower Cristina Kotz Cornejo. Huarpe People.
Winner: Cuando cierro los ojos/When I Close My Eyes Michelle Ibaven, Sergio Blanco. Mazatec, Mixtec Peoples
Categoría Pueblos Afro/African Diasporic Peoples
Winner: Negra/Black Medhin Tewolde Serrano. Afrodiasporic
Honorable Mention: Tita, tejedora de raíces/Tita, Weaver of Roots Monica Morales Garcia. Afro-Mexican people.
Categoría Diversidades Ancestrales
Winner: La espera/The Wait Celina Yunuen, Manuel Piñón. P’urhépecha People
Categoría Choyün. Selected by an international jury made up of children from various territories.
Winner: Margarita, una niña afrochilena/Margarita, an Afro-Chilean Girl Produced by Rescuing Dreams Foundation. Afro-Chilean people
Honorable Mention: Pintando Estrellas: Un viaje por el mundo del arte/Painting Stars: A Journey through the World of Art Cap. Pedro, violinist from Chalam.Tzotzil People
Honorable mention: Pu Epew Taiñ Küme Mogeleal Ayelen Salazar Huaiquiñir. Mapuche People
Indigenous at SXSW Film Festival and SXSW EDU
SXSW Film Festival
Winner, Documentary Short: Long Line of Ladies Rayka Zehtabchi, Shaandiin Tome, Producers: Garrett Schiff, Pimm Tripp-Allen, Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis, Dana Kurth
SXSW EDU’s Launch 2022 Launch celebrates emerging innovations in learning with a fast-paced pitch competition featuring early-stage startups.
Winner: Our Worlds, Inc., Pala Indian Reservation, CA - ER (extended reality) experiences