Adeana Young plays Hlaaya in Gwaai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s Film Sgaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife. Photo: Niijang Xyaalas Productions, copyright Isuma Distribution International.

NMAI News: Film festival showcases Indigenous voices from around the world

Indigenous Languages and Stories of Women Emphasized at the Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe
Appearances by Kiowa Writer N. Scott Momaday and Tlingit Glass Artist Preston Singletary

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian presents the 19th annual Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 13–18. In this year’s installment, nearly all of the films were made by Native filmmakers; more than half were made by women, including the opening and closing films. In all, this year’s event includes 53 films from 11 countries, representing nearly 40 Indigenous groups.

In an affirmation of the power of self-representation, and in recognition of the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the lineup includes films such as SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife), the first feature-length film to be spoken entirely in the Haida language, and Wiñaypacha (Eternity), the first feature-length film shot entirely in the Aymara language. In all, the showcase includes dialogue and narration in 20 Indigenous languages.

“More and more, Native filmmakers are able to use their medium to assert Indigenous identities on their own terms,” said Kevin Gover, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “There’s no longer a need to make films with the intention of creating work that’s palatable to the mainstream; audiences are meeting the filmmakers where they are, and the Native Cinema Showcase is the museum’s way of supporting this effort.”

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The showcase begins and ends with portraits of strong women. Tuesday evening’s feature film, Warrior Women, shows the role of women in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s from a female perspective. The closing film, Vai, incorporates languages of Oceania as it follows the journey of one woman across eight Indigenous communities throughout the Pacific Islands. Saturday’s family-friendly feature, Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet, brings together Disney princesses including Pocahontas as they question the stereotypical roles they fell into during past film appearances.

The showcase runs in conjunction with the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts Santa Fe Indian Market, the largest juried show of Native fine art in the world. The majority of the films will be screened at the New Mexico History Museum, and Ralph Breaks the Internet will screen outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. All screenings are free, and seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other highlights include an appearance by Pulitzer prize-winning writer N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), who will make remarks before the screening of the biographical film N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear Thursday, Aug. 15, at 7 p.m. A “State of the Arts” talk is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 16, at 3 p.m. and will feature Tlingit glass artist Preston Singletary.

Showcase Schedule

Tuesday, August 13

7 p.m.: Warrior Women (USA, 2018, 64 min.)

Followed by a discussion with activist Marcella Gilbert (Lakota and Dakota /Cheyenne River Lakota Nation) and directors Christina D. King (Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma) and Elizabeth A. Castle.

Wednesday, August 14

1 p.m.: Wiñaypacha (Eternity) (Peru, 2017, 87 min.)

3 p.m.: The Blessing (USA, 2018, 74 min.)

Followed by a discussion with directors Hunter Robert Baker and Jordan Fein and producer Laura Ball.

7 p.m.: Falls Around Her (Canada, 2018, 98 min.)

Thursday, August 15

1 p.m.: Angelique’s Isle (Canada, 2018, 90min.) preceded by Ara Marumaru (The Shadow) (New Zealand, 2018, 8 min.)

3 p.m.: “The Land Speaks” shorts program (86 min. total)

Seven short films emphasize Native knowledge of the environment and the look into its future.

7 p.m.: N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear (USA, 2018, 85 min.)

N. Scott Momaday: Words From a Bear

Friday, August 16

1 p.m.: “Future Focused” shorts program (55 min. total)

This program features films that present innovative stories from First Nations and U.S. Native communities.

3 p.m.: “State of the Art” conversation with Preston Singletary

7 p.m.: SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife) (Canada, 2018, 100 min.) preceded by Mahiganiec

(Baby Wolf) (Canada, 2017, 5 min.)

Followed by a discussion with filmmaker Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida) and musician and composer Kinnie Starr (Mohawk)

Saturday, August 17

1 p.m.: Lensic Future Voices (90 min. total)

This program includes a selection of films by student filmmakers. Presented in collaboration with Lensic Performing Arts Center and Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. Introduced by Marcella Ernest (Bad River Band of Chippewa), Project Director, Lensic Future Voices.

3 p.m.: Our Stories Shorts (86 min. total)

This program reflects the best of Native storytelling as told through family history, language and tradition, often with a dose of Native humor.

8 p.m.: Ralph Breaks the Internet, screened outdoors at the Santa Fe Railyard Park Screen.

Sgaawaay K’uuna/Edge of the Knife

Sunday, August 18

1 p.m.: Rise Above Shorts (86 min. total)

The realities of rising above adversity, loving oneself and the journey of learning life’s lessons is the focus of this program.

3 p.m: Vai (New Zealand, 2018, 90 min.) preceded by Katatjatuuk Kangirsumi/Throat Singing in

Kangirsuk (Canada, 2018, 3 min.) and Pire (Argentina, 2018, 3 min.)

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