Indigenous film, television projects in the works
Indian Country Today
As 2020 comes to a close, and the film industry strives to recover in the midst of the pandemic, film studios, production companies, and Native actors and producers continue to work behind the scenes of the film industry to bring more Indigenous voices to the digital media world.
Here are a lot of film projects in various stages of development that are coming to video-on-demand streaming platforms, such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu and possibly theater play, Video-on-Demand and television.
Canyon Del Muerto
Wes Studi, Q’orianka Kilcher, Tatanka Means and David Midthunder are among the cast of “Canyon Del Muerto” by writer and director Coerte Voorhees. The film stars Val Kilmer and Abigail Lawrie and is based on the true story of one of America’s first female archeologists that explored civilizations in the American southwest and Mexico.
The film has been shot across culturally significant locations in cooperation with the National Park Service, the Navajo Nation and the government of Yucatan. Navajo Nation President Johnathan Nez reportedly will have a cameo in the film. The release date has not been announced.
Taika Waititi and Sterlin Harjo have been working on this FX and Disney+ mini-series for some time. The half-hour episodic series stars D’Pharoah Woon-A-Tai, Devery Jacobs, Paulina Alexis and Lane Factor and is about four Native teenagers growing up on an Oklahoma rez.
Michael Greyeyes and Chaske Spencer will join Jesse Eisenberg in “Wild Indian” about two men learning to confront a deep secret they both hold regarding the death of a schoolmate. The release date has not been announced.
Ava DuVernay, N. Bird Runningwater, Sydney Freeland and Shaz Bennett have combined efforts to the upcoming project “Sovereign,” a pilot that has received a nod of commitment from NBC.
The project will be the first time a Native family drama has been created for network television. The story follows a Native family and “Chronicles the lives, loves and loyalties of a sprawling Indigenous family struggling to control the future of their tribe against outside forces and themselves.”
Frybread Face and Me
Taika Waititi, Māori, and writer and director Billy Luther, Navajo, are teaming up to create a semi-autobiographical film about Luther’s life. “Frybread Face and Me” follows the story of two Native cousins who come together during a summer of herding sheep. The project was one of the 10 projects selected by the 2020 Sundance Institute’s Director and Screenwriter’s lab.
Luther, who directed the documentary “Miss Navajo” and the 2018 series “Alter-Native” will direct and Waititi will executive produce.
Hawkeye (featuring the Native and deaf superhero, Echo)
As previously reported, the Native actress Alaqua Cox, Menominee of Wisconsin, has been cast as Maya Lopez, the alter-identity of Echo, a deaf Native superhero. Cox, who is also deaf, will be appearing alongside Jeremy Renner, who plays Hawkeye in “Avengers,” in the Marvel/Disney+ series “Hawkeye.”
Besides Cox, Zahn McClarnon has been cast in the series as William Lopez.
A few more by Taika Waititi...
New Zealand director Taika Waititi has a lot of projects in various stages of development to include options, pitches, treatments and more, according to his IMDb page. Some of his potential upcoming projects include the following:
- Flash Gordon: Submitted as a treatment
- Akira: Unknown
- Untitled Star Wars film: Announced
- Thor: Love and Thunder: Pre-production
- What if? Korg episode: Filming
- Acting parts in “Suicide Squad” and “Free Guy”
Vincent Schilling, Akwesasne Mohawk, is associate editor of Indian Country Today who enjoys creating media, technology, computers, comics and movies. He is a film critic and writes the #NativeNerd column. Twitter @VinceSchilling, TikTok @VinceSchilling Email: email@example.com he is also the opinions’ editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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