Sundance brings Native Cinema to Florida

By Sandra Hale Schulman 
 - News From Indian Country - 

Sundance brought some native films and filmmaking knowledge to South Florida this summer, with two screenings of short films and a seminar on filmmaking in conjunction with Native Reel Cinema Fest. Two of the filmmakers, Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr and Shaandiin Tome attended to take part in a Q&A with Bird Runningwater of Sundance.  

One public screening was held at O Cinema in Miami, with the second event at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale, hosted by Everett Osceola and April Kirk of Native Reel Cinema Fest.

The films shown were all shorts that had previously been screened at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah during their prestigious annual film festival that tens of thousands of major movers and shakers in the industry attend.

The films screened were:

ALTER-NATIVE: 17 ½ min

Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo)

Alter-NATIVE follows a year in the life of Native American fashion designer Bethany Yellowtail as she develops her latest collection inspired by her art, activism, and indigenous women. Founded in December 2014 and based in Los Angeles, B.YELLOWTAIL is a clothing line created by designer Bethany Yellowtail, whose vision and brand values reflect her Apsaalooke (Crow) & Tsetsehestahese & So’taeo’o (Northern Cheyenne) tribal heritage. A celebration of ancestral tradition, beauty, and culture, B.YELLOWTAIL embraces an authentic voice of contemporary Native America through design and wearable art. She is shown designing her collection, producing fashion shoots and a runway show. Fans Taboo and Martin Sensmeier – who is tapped to play athlete Jim Thorpe in an upcoming film – are part of Bethany’s fashion world. The film has spawned a series on YouTube Channel Indie Lens Storycast.

Presented by Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Film Program and made possible with generous support from the Knight Foundation, the event included a reception and a Q&A  where the filmmakers discussed the challenges and rewards of making their first films.

Native Reel Cinema Fest is run by Everett Osceola of the Seminoles who received a $50,000 grant from the Knight Foundation last year. He produces a festival weekend at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood every January, bringing in top native films and actors including Wes Studi, Graham Greene, and Irene Bedard.

The Seminar At ArtServe

The Violence Of A Civilization Without Secrets: 10 min

Adam Khalil (Ojibway)

Zach Khalil (Ojibway)

Jackson Polys (Tlingit)
An urgent reflection on indigenous sovereignty, the undead violence of museum archives, and postmortem justice through the case of the “Kennewick Man,” a prehistoric Paleo-American man whose remains were found in Kennewick, Washington, in 1996. The film raises important issues of lineage and who was in America first.


Shaandiin Tome (Diné)

On her last day, Ruby faces the inescapable remnants of alcoholism, family, and culture. A searing portrait of a woman on a downward spiral who has visions of the mud that will eventually be her deathbed.

SHINAAB: 8 min

Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa Indians)

An Anishinaabe man is restless and isolated in the city of Minneapolis, haunted by an ominous sense that he doesn’t belong. He sits in diners, walks the streets, and come across a teepee in a field that may or may not be a vision.  Shinaab eerily portrays Indigenous people’s dislocation and alienation on their own land as sinister and enigmatic forces.

NUUCA: 13 min

Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin)

The oil boom in North Dakota has brought tens of thousands of new people to the region, and with that has come an influx of drugs, crime, and sex trafficking. Over the last decade, an oil boom in North Dakota has seen the state’s population double with primarily male workers flocking to the region. With this dramatic increase has come an influx of drugs, crime and sexual violence. On the Fort Berthold Indian reservation alone, rates of sexual violence have increased 168%, with Indigenous women most affected. Juxtaposing the ravaged yet starkly beautiful landscape with personal testimony from young Indigenous women living on the reservation, Nuuca is an evocative meditation revealing the connections between the rape of the earth and the violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and girls.


Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga)

Against landscapes that the artist and his father traversed, audio of the father in the Ho-Chunk language is transcribed using the International Phonetic Alphabet, which tapers off, narrowing the distance between recorder and recordings, new and traditional, memory and song.



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