Sundance Institute is highlighting the titles of the Indigenous-made films that will be premiering at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. These films competed against a pool of 13,782 submissions, to be selected among the 122 feature films and 71 short films playing at the Festival. Sundance Film Festival, which runs from January 19 to January 29 in Park City, Utah.
Nearly 300 Native artists have been supported by Sundance Institute over the last 35 years. Here are the Indigenous made films premiering at the 2017 Sundance festival.
Deidra and Laney Rob a Train – Director: Sydney Freeland (Dine)
Two teenage sisters start robbing trains to make ends meet after their single mother’s emotional meltdown in an electronics store lands her in jail. Mom going to jail creates problems as older sister Deidra has to take care of younger sister, Laney and little brother, Jet; but it could also be a good thing, therapeutically and maybe financially.
“Comedic alchemy” is the description and Freeland gets these young actors to shine. Cast includes Tim Blake Nelson and Sasheer Zamata. Returning director, Sydney Freeland (Drunktown’s Finest, 2014 Sundance Film Festival) is an Emmy Award–nominated filmmaker for the web series, Her Story, and a recipient of Sundance Institute’s Native Lab Fellowship, Time Warner Foundation Fellowship, and Women at Sundance Fellowship. Category: NEXT
Dolores – Director: Peter Bratt (Quechua)
Dolores Huerta co-founded the first Farm Workers’ Union with Cesar Chavez, but the written history was not kind to her, she fought corporations, police, machismo and the men who wrote the histories. Huerta fought for racial and labor justice and became one of the most defiant feminists of the twentieth century.
Because she married three times and raised 11 children and faced false accusations from foes and friends alike, regarding child neglect and immoral behavior – she was forced out of the very union she helped create. Carlos Santana is Executive Producer. Peter is Benjamin Bratt’s older brother and was awarded a 2000 Rockefeller Foundation Film/Video/Multimedia Fellowship, for his first film, Follow Me Home.
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World – Executive Producers: Stevie Salas (Apache) and Tim Johnson (Mohawk)
A feature documentary about the role of Native Americans in popular music history. According to the Rezolution Pictures website, RUMBLE will tell the story of a profound, essential, and, until now, missing chapter in the history of American music: the Indigenous influence. Featuring music icons Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Robbie Robertson, Randy Castillo, and others, RUMBLE will show how these talented Native musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.
The list of people interviewed and participating is long, including John Trudell, Joy Harjo, Pura Fe, Martha Redbone, Jackson Browne, Martin Scorsese, Taj Mahal, Cyril and Ivan Neville and a who’s who of rock, blues and jazz heroes. Directed by Catherine Bainbridge (Reel Injun) and Alfonso Maiorana (The Big World).
Sami Blood – Director: Amanda Kernell (Sámi)
A production in Swedish and South Sami languages, Kernell developed this feature expansion from her short film Northern Great Mountain, which played at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and won several awards at the Göteborg and Uppsala Film Festivals. In 1930’s Sweden, sisters Elle-Marja and Njenna are taken from their indigenous reindeer-breeding family and sent to a Sámi-only boarding school where they are subjected to locals’ taunts and the indignities of race-based physical examinations.
Njenna clings to her cultural traditions, Elle-Marja urges her to speak Swedish and try harder to assimilate, but finds that she is constantly judged as inferior. A little-known piece of Swedish history that sounds exactly like First Nations and Native American boarding school traumatic experiences.
My Father’s Tools – Director: Heather Condo (Micmac)
Stephen continues producing traditional baskets to honor his father and thus finds peace in his studio as he connects with the man who taught him the craft. Condo was born in Maria, Quebec in 1971, was adopted and grew up in Massachusetts, but in 2005 Condo moved back to Gesgapegiag where she has family. Condo, who loves the outdoors, has talked about making this film for quite some time and was encouraged by her son to make it in collaboration with the Wapikoni Mobile Team.
Nutag Homeland – Director: Alisi Telengut (Mongolian)
This hand-painted visual poem explores the ideas of diaspora, homeland, and the mass deportations of the Kalmyk people during World War II. The Kalmyk were mass-deported by USSR from 1943-1957 and half of them died before they were allowed to return.
Shinaab – Director: Lyle Mitchell Corbine, Jr. (Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians)
A young Anishinaabe man struggles with his place in the inner city of Minneapolis. Corbine Jr. is a writer, director, and producer based in Minnesota. In 2016, who was awarded the Sundance Institute/Time Warner Foundation Native Producer Fellowship. He has made 15 short films, been awarded production grants by the Sundance Institute and the Minnesota State Arts Board, and is developing his first feature entitled Wild Indian.
Visions of an Island – Director: Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga)
In a summer of intention and wandering, an Unangam Tunuu elder reflects on landscape and fauna, language students play and teach invented games, a portrait takes shape of a place through the dim and distant glimpse of a visitor on an island in the center of the Bering Sea.
Hopinka is a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language, and the facets of culture contained within. Hopinka also directed poetry videos for Paiute poet, Adrian Louis.
Rise – Director: Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin)
From the Standing Rock fight against “the Black Snake” to the Oak Flat campgrounds that Arizona politicians are attempting sell to international copper mining giant Rio Tinto, this docuseries from VICELAND expertly investigates the ongoing environmental rights struggles still facing many Native American and indigenous citizens worldwide.
Unflinching and timely, these stories reflect the ongoing history of Native resistance to colonization, giving a face to communities fighting for their most basic rights with an enduring hope that a shameful history will never be repeated. Latimer won a National Screen Institute-NSI Drama Prize for Rise, produced in partnership with VICE Studio Canada and APTN, and will debut three episodes (Sacred Water, Apache Stronghold, and, Red Power) in the short-form episodic series in the special events category.