Indigenous film, television projects in the works

Vincent Schilling

Big names, big projects, and lots of Native projects to get excited about

Vincent Schilling
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

Hostiles is a movie about the world of American soldiers, white settlers, American Indians and the world that surrounded them all in 1892. Among the most notable Native actors in the film is Wes Studi, who portrays the Cheyenne Chief Yellowhawk.
Native actor Wes Studi.Vincent Schilling

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.

Tatanka Means
Actor and comedian Tatanka Means (Courtesy image)

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.

Reservation Dogs

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.

Wild Indian

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.

Justin Rain as Crazy Dog (right) and Michael Greyeyes as Black Hat Reservation leader Qaletaqa Walker (left) on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead. Season 3, Episode 7.
Michael Greyeyes as Black Hat Reservation leader Qaletaqa Walker (left) on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead. Season 3, Episode 7.

Sovereign

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.

N. Bird Runningwater
N. Bird Runningwater

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)

Native actress Alaqua Cox, who is also deaf, cast as Echo in Disney+ series ‘Hawkeye
Native actress Alaqua Cox, who is also deaf, cast as Echo in Disney+ series ‘Hawkeye (Images: Wikipedia, Twitter)

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...

Taika Waititi posing in the press room at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, California on Feb. 9, 2020.
Taika Waititi, Maori, posed at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards in Feb. 2020, with the Emmy he won for Best Adapted Screenplay for the film Jojo Rabbit. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA Images via AP)

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”
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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: vschilling@indiancountrytoday.com he is also the opinions’ editor, opinion@indincountrytoday.com.

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