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Native American Film and Video Fest Turns 30

Photo of Peter Knegt By Peter Knegt | Indiewire March 20, 2009 at 6:56AM

The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has announced the complete lineup for its 2009 Native American Film and Video Festival. Fourteen features and 43 shorts representing 10 countries were chosen from more than 350 submissions. This year's festival celebrates its 30th anniversary and "the richness and growth of indigenous film and media." The festival will run from Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29, at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center. All screenings are free and open to the public.
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The Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian has announced the complete lineup for its 2009 Native American Film and Video Festival. Fourteen features and 43 shorts representing 10 countries were chosen from more than 350 submissions. This year's festival celebrates its 30th anniversary and "the richness and growth of indigenous film and media." The festival will run from Thursday, March 26, through Sunday, March 29, at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center. All screenings are free and open to the public.

The festival will open with the world premiere of "We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears" directed by Chris Eyre on Thursday, March 26. The screening will be introduced by Eyre, executive producer Sharon Grimberg and lead actor Wes Studi. Other announced features include "Older Than America" by Georgina Lightning, starring Adam Beach and Studi, and "Pachamama" by Toshifumi Matsushita, a coming-of-age story that takes place along the salt route of the Andes in Bolivia. The complete lineup of feature films is listed below, with descriptions provided by the festival. For further information, and a list of programmed short films, please visit the festival's website.

2009 Native American Film + Video Festival Lineup

Feature Films, Narrative:

El Grito de la Selva /Cry of the Forest, (2008, 95 min. Bolivia) Directed by Alejandro Noza (Moxeno), Nicolas Ipamo (Chiquitano), Ivan Sanjines. Produced by Cinematography Education and Production Center - Bolivian Indigenous Peoples' Audiovisual Council (CEFREC-CAIB) and the Aboriginal Indigenous National Plan for Audiovisual Communication. In Spanish with English subtitles. The regional indigenous movement of the 1990s in Bolivia sets the stage for the country's first indigenous feature film. Communities in lowland Beni are shattered by violence meted out by illegal loggers. Their defense of their lives and lands culminates in protests that change the political landscape of Bolivia forever. Presented in association with the Rainforest Foundation US.

Moccasin Flats: Redemption, (2007, 96 min. Canada) Directed by Rob King. Executive Producer: Laura J. Milliken (Ojibwe). Based on a popular Canadian television series set in a gritty "urban rez," this rambunctious feature takes Red out of prison and back to Moccasin Flats, friendless, penniless and aimless. It's here-in the midst of a brewing gang war and the constant temptation of his former addiction to crystal meth - that Red must face the past and choose his future path. Presented in association with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. New York Premiere.

Older Than America, (2007, 102 min. USA) Directed by Georgina Lightning (Cree). An accomplished first feature explores a dark reality that has shaped generations of Native American experience cross the U.S. and Canada-the Indian boarding school. A woman's haunting visions reveal a web of intrigue that reaches out from the past in a cry for justice and healing. Presented in association with IFP. New York Premiere.

Pachamama, (2008, 104 min. Bolivia/Japan) Directed by Toshifumi Matsushita. In Quechua and Aymara with English subtitles. A warm and vibrant coming-of-age film follows Kunchari, a traditional Quechua boy, who joins his father on a trek across Bolivia to trade the salt they have gathered at the salt lake. As they and their pack animals slowly make their way, Kunchari's many experiences--hardship, tragedy and the joy of first love--reveal to him the gift of Pachamama, the fullness of life itself. Presented in association with Asian CineVision and the Japan Society. US premiere.

Tkaronto, (2007, 105 min. Canada) Directed by Shane Belcourt (Metis). In this moody, stylishly envisioned feature, Ray and Jolene, two Native thirty-somethings living in Tkaronto (the Mohawk word for Toronto), make an unexpected and life-changing connection as they navigate experiences of contemporary Native life. Presented in association with imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. New York Premiere.

Feature Films, Documentary:

Club Native, (2008, 78 min. Canada) Directed by Tracey Deer (Mohawk). Through absorbing, intimate portraits of four Mohawk women, the filmmaker delineates the human cost of rules about blood quantum that determine the everyday lives and loves of the Kahnawake Mohawk. In common with many Native communities, blood quantum, marrying "out," and arbitrary requirements for membership have a devastating power to define aboriginal identity and aboriginal rights. Presented in association with Women Make Movies.

El Juicio de Pascual Pichun/Besieged Land, (2007, 65 min. Canada/Chile) Directed by Maria Teresa Larrain. In Spanish and Mapudungun with English subtitles. In Southern Chile, a powerful landowner and a respected Mapuche chief dispute contested land. When the chief is accused and tried for burning the landowner's home, his case comes to represent a clash between two opposing visions of the world, enflamed by a multinational company's desire to log the land. US Premiere.

Kanien'Keha:Ka/Living the Language, (2008, 62 min. Canada) Directed by Paul M. Rickard (Cree) and Tracey Deer (Mohawk). In Mohawk and English with English subtitles. What does it take to save an ancient language? In the Mohawk community of Akwesasne an immersion program developed by the Akwesasne Freedom School holds out hope for new speakers of all ages. US Premiere.

Little Caughnawaga: To Brooklyn and Back, (2008, 57 min. Canada/USA) Directed by Reaghan Tarbell (Mohawk). The filmmaker explores her roots and traces the connections of her family from the Kahnawake Reserve outside Montreal to the 10-square block area in Brooklyn known as Little Caughnawaga. There, while the Mohawk ironworkers were building Manhattan's iconic skyscrapers, the women sustained a vibrant community far from home.

Making the River, (2008, 83 min. USA) Directed by SarahDel Seronde (Navajo). Jimi Simmons shares his life story, growing up within the institutional system, finding family and his Indian identity inside prison walls, and--despite the odds--his emergence as a loving husband and father. New York Premiere.

Moko Tekoa Pete Jeguata/Two Villages, One Path, (2008, 63 min. Brazil) Directed by Ariel Ortega (Guarani), Germano Benites (Guarani), Jorge Motinico (Guarani). In Guarani and Portuguese with English subtitles. Three young Guarani filmmakers explore the daily lives of the inhabitants of two communities linked by a common past, their first contact with Europeans and their dependence on the sale of their artisan crafts to survive. US Premiere.

Suma Qamana, Sumak Kausay, Teko Kavi /For a Better Life, (2008, 55 min. Bolivia) Directed collectively. Produced by Cinematography Education and Production Center-Bolivian Indigenous Peoples' Audiovisual Council. In Spanish and indigenous languages with English subtitles. In Bolivia, a forceful new movement for progressive change has emerged from the indigenous peoples of the country. Indigenous videomakers document the historic process of mobilization by indigenous and peasant organizations, leading to the drafting of a controversial new national constitution that recognizes indigenous autonomy and protects linguistic and cultural diversity. US premiere.

Weaving Worlds, (2007, 57 min. USA) Directed by Bennie Klain (Navajo). In Navajo and English with English subtitles. An exploration of the intricate relationships between Navajo rug weavers and reservation traders, this insightful documentary reveals the delicate balance between maintaining cultural traditions, economic survival, and the artistic validation sought by many weavers. New York Premiere.

We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears (2008, 74 min., USA) Directed by Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho). Though the Cherokee embraced "civilization" in the mid-1800s and their sovereignty was recognized in the U.S. Supreme Court, they were made to leave their eastern homelands and force-marched to present-day Oklahoma on the infamous Trail of Tears. Contemporary voices are woven with a richly textured narrative cinema that recreates this tragic chapter in Cherokee history. Presented in association with the American Indian Community House and Native American Public Telecommunications. World Premiere.

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