Along with our premiere of Words from a Bear, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival was a hot stop for thriving and upcoming Indigenous filmmakers, in Park City, Utah.
This year, Sundance featured eight Indigenous Films, in addition to events that focused on the inclusion and expansion of the Indigenous Narrative. Check out the list of films here!
Executive Director Shirley Sneve and Assistant Director Rebekka Schlichting
Shirley Sneve and Rebekka Schlichting represented Vision Maker Media. Board members Maya Solis Austin, Joely Proudfit and Elizabeth Weatherford and VMM filmmakers Jeffery Palmer, Tracy Rector, Katja Esson, and Ann Makepeace were also in present and involved at the festival.
"The Way Forward - New American Storytelling" presented by Firelight Media and Color of Change
Shirley and Rebekka kicked off their stay at the Kickstarter panel called “The Way Forward - New American Storytelling” presented by Firelight Media and Color of Change, where Shirley was asked, as a Tribal elder, to open the event in an appropriate Native way. In a large windowed cabin with an elaborate antler chandelier and huge head-dressed chief made from license plates hanging over the fireplace, Shirley offered a prayer and acknowledged the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute and Ute tribes indigenous to the lands of Utah. The panel featured Native and African American filmmakers who are working to ensure that the story of America reflects our collective experiences and memories.
Panelists included Stanley Nelson, director of "Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool;" Jacqueline Olive, director of "Always in Season" and Jeffrey Palmer, director of "Words from a Bear." Color of Change's Rashad Robinson moderated.
The Center for Asian American Media Panel "The Road to Decolonization"
Shirley and Rebekka also attended a panel by VMM partner The Center for Asian American Media called “The Road to Decolonization,” which offered thoughtful discussion about how to seek positive change in media and move forward while respecting and including people of color despite clashing belief systems. David Magdael moderated a lively panel discussion featuring Filmmakers Abigail Disney, Karim Amer, Tilane Jones and from Harness, Marya Bangee.
During the Native Forum Breakfast put on by the Sundance Native American Program, Bird Runningwater, the executive director, announced a name change of their program to the “Indigenous Program.” Co-Directors Ainsley Gardiner and Briar Grace-Smith are the 2019 recipients of the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship, an annual fellowship named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker Merata Mita (1942-2010). Read more about the Merata Mita Fellowship here.
Shirley and Rebekka left on a high note, shortly after the premiere of Words from a Bear by VMM Filmmaker Jeffery Palmer (Kiowa).
“I sat behind N. Scott Momaday during the film,” Rebekka said. “It was nice to see his laughs and reaction to this very important film about his life. It was very powerful for me to see the Kiowa sun dance story on the big screen at Sundance. Everyone should have been there.”
Executive Director Shirley Sneve with N. Scott Momaday