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Filmmakers and film enthusiasts make their annual voyage to Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, to screen their films and get the scoop on what’s new in the independent film world.

This year was a little bit different with the inaugural Indigenous Filmmakers Lounge. It was the two-day event full of panels, roundtables, and screenings cultivated by Native artists, filmmakers, actors, and industry leaders during the festival's opening weekend 

With only an average of 0.04 percent Native characters shown in American films and primetime television, and a lack of representation in crews, filmmakers, writers, artists, and other entertainment professionals, the Indigenous community is a grossly underrepresented population in the industry according to the IllumiNative Guide for Entertainment Professionals. 

Sahar Khadjenoury has the story for Indian Country Today.

The Native voices and supporters included:

  • Writer and director Sterlin Harjo of "Reservation Dogs," Mekko" and the 1491s
  • Writer and director Michelle Latimer of "Trickster" and "Rise"
  • Actress Julia Jones of "Goliath," "Wind River" and "Westworld"
  • Act Martin Sensmeier of "Magnificent Seven" and "Yellowstone"
  • Actor Zahn McClarnon of "Westworld," "Fargo," and "The Son"
  • Writer and director Ryan RedCorn of "Take Action: Protect Our Land" and the 1491s
  • Director and producer Jennifer Loren of Cherokee Nation's "Osiyo: Voices of the Cherokee People"
  • Writer and director Danis Goulet of "Knight Raiders"
  • Erika Soto Lamb, vice president of Social Impact Strategy at Paramount Network
  • Tilane Jones, president of ARRAY
  • Elizabeth Bell, a seasoned producer and attorney in entertainment and Indian law who worked on "Wind River" and "LBJ"
  • Renowned director and producer Heather Rae of "Frozen River" and "Tallulah"
  • Willi White, NDN Collective Multimedia Producer, was a panel guest during the Indigenous Lounge as a representative of NDN Collective. 
  • Artist Steven Paul Judd
  • Crystal Echo Hawk, CEO of IllumiNative
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Sahar Khadjenoury, Diné/Persian, is a video producer based in Salt Lake City. Follow her on Instagram/Twitter: @saharspice