Films | Guests | Special Events
Ophir tells the story of an extraordinary indigenous revolution for life, land and culture, leading up to the potential creation of the world’s newest nation in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. A poetic yet dramatic ode to the indelible thirst for freedom, culture and sovereignty; the film sheds light on the biggest conflict of the Pacific since WWII, revealing the visible and invisible chains of colonization and its enduring cycles of physical and psychological warfare.
FIFO International Documentary Film Festival of Oceania – World Premiere
WINNER Grand Jury Prize (February 2020)
POCAHONTAS REFRAMED UNIVERSITY PRESENTS:
Professors Peter Kirkpatrick (VCU), Francoise Kirkpatrick (University of Richmond), and Cristina Stanciu (VCU) will discuss and enlighten on the historical and cinematic importance of the film. Moderated by Jeffrey Allison and Trent Nicholas from VMFA.
Redskin was an honest effort, ahead of its time, to present the complex web of prejudices between and among Indians and non-Indians. The film was photographed partially in a “ravishing” early Technicolor process; but only the scenes of Native American life, for the Indians are the heroes. Off the reservation, life was in black and white. The striking combination of color and monochrome footage resulted from a financial necessity, not an aesthetic decision. Paramount decided the film was costing too much money, and director Schertzinger was ordered to stop filming in color. He turned a potential disaster into an artistic statement. The original print was also filmed partly in Magnascope, an early 70mm wide screen process. This exhibition print was preserved from the original camera negative in the American Film Institute/Paramount Collection at the Library of Congress.
One single word ripples outward, vibrating with healing power.
For Winnemem Wintu young man Michael “Pom” Preston, Sawalmem, meaning sacred water, represents an entire worldview, a vital vision for healing the world and his ancestral lands.
Nominated for an Emmy in 2021!
The Pamunkey River, a beautiful body of water located in Virginia’s tidewater region, has been home to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe longer than records have been kept. For thousands of years the Pamunkey River has connected a people to a place, and has sustained generations of the Tribe. Today, it is under pressure from invasive species and pollution, but a new generation of Pamunkey members, in tandem with Government scientists, are working to bring the river and its fish populations back to a healthy place. Follow along as tribal members and researchers explain the unique history of the Tribe and how this river has affected the lives of so many Pamunkey Indians.
Bradford Bilodeau is a Sixties Scoop survivor on a journey to speak with his birth uncle about the day that Bradford and his siblings were all taken from their mother.
A new short film asking United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland to relist the wolf under the Endangered Species Act.
An animated informational video explaining that telling people you’re Native American when you’re not Native is a lot like telling a bear you’re a bear when you’re not a bear.
Johnny is Emily’s first Native American boyfriend, and now that they’ve been dating for a few months, she’s going to take this golden opportunity to apologize for every microaggression she has ever made against Native Americans.
The rags to riches story of internationally acclaimed Native American artist Poteet Victory, in his own words. The story of Poteet Victory leaves one struggling to grasp that his is a true story. From being abandoned in Oklahoma to partying with Andy Warhol, finding a mentor in Harold Stevenson, enlisting in the military, and getting down to his last dollar in Santa Fe. Victory has become one of the most collectible living Native American artists today.
INTREPIDUS is one of five undergraduate films nominated in 2020 for the 21st Annual Student Heritage awards presented by the American Society of Cinematographers.
When Dillon, a Native American foster youth, is transferred to a new group home, “Camp Lazarum”, he discovers that he is part of a 200 year old dark secret. Running from his mother’s suicide, Dillon is plagued by horrible unrelenting visions. With the help of his compassionate councilor, Chitto, new found friend, Malcom, and camp elder, Bear, Dillon discovers that an ancient monster, responsible for slaughtering his tribe many years ago, is taking the shape of his mother to feed off his pain. Now he is forced to face his internal demons or perish with the rest of his people.
Twelve-year-old Beans is on the edge: torn between innocent childhood and delinquent adolescence; forced to grow up fast to become the tough Mohawk warrior she needs to be during the Indigenous uprising known as The Oka Crisis, which tore Quebec and Canada apart for 78 tense days in the summer of 1990.
“Kill the Indian in him, and save the man” was the guiding principle of the U.S. government run Indian boarding school system starting in the late 19th Century. The program removed tens of thousands of Native American children from their tribal homelands, and through brutal assimilation tactics, stripped them of their languages, traditions and culture. The students were forced through a military-style, remedial education. Most children returned emotionally scarred, culturally unrooted with trauma that has echoed down the generations. Many students never returned home, having died at the schools. Home From School: The Children of Carlisle dives into history of the flagship federal boarding school, Carlisle Indian Industrial School, and follows the modern day journey of the Northern Arapaho Tribe as they seek to bring home the remains of three children who died at Carlisle over 100 years ago. To move forward they need to heal from the past, and in doing so they forge the way for other tribes to follow.
From Earth to Sky explores the work of seven unique and accomplished Indigenous Architects as they design and complete extraordinary ‘buildings’ in cities and communities across North America and Turtle Island. Beautiful and intimate, the film sparks a vital conversation paramount to transforming perspectives on how we approach our built environment.
Searching for Sequoyah is the first documentary feature to chronicle the legendary accomplishments and mysterious death of the famed Cherokee visionary, Sequoyah, whose English name was George Guess. While much is known about Sequoyah’s many accomplishments, very little is known about the man himself. The greatest mystery is not that he created the Cherokee writing system, or syllabary, but rather the details of his final journey to Mexico and the circumstances of his death. After removal from their southeast homelands separated some Cherokees as far as Mexico, Sequoyah set out late in life to reunite the Cherokee people in their new capitol, Tahlequah – Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). From Tuskegee, Tennessee to Zaragoza, Mexico – Searching for Sequoyah takes viewers on a journey retracing Sequoyah’s final quest, the mystery surrounding his death and the legacy he left behind.
Savage Conversations is a daring account of a former first lady and the ghosts that tormented her for contradictions and crimes on which this nation is founded.
Guest filmmakers Darlene Naponse and Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie
Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie is from Rough Rock, Arizona, and is a Seminole-Muscogee-Navajo photographer, curator, and professor living in Davis, California. Darlene Naponse is an Anishinaabe from Atikameksheng Anishnawbek – Northern Ontario, Canada. She is a writer, film director, and video artist. Her film work has been viewed nationally and internationally.They will talk about the environmental territory they grew up in and how that has affected their work. Also, them being indigenous women artists and how that has also affected their perspective.
The Humanities Research Center at VCU is proud to create and announce the Karenne Wood Native Writer/Artist Residency program.
Karenne Wood (born 1960, died 21 July 2019) was a member of the Monacan Indian tribe who was known for her poetry and for her work in tribal history. She served as the director of the Virginia Indian Programs at Virginia Humanities, in Charlottesville, Virginia. She directed a tribal history project for the Monacan Nation, conducted research at the National Museum of the American Indian, and served on the National Congress of American Indians‘ Repatriation Commission. In 2015, she was named one of the Library of Virginia’s “Virginia Women in History.”
Darren Thompson (Ojibwe/Tohono O’ddham) is a Native American flute player and educator from the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Reservation in Northern Wisconsin. He is one of Crazy Horse Memorial’s main performers and the opening act of Brulé’s summer concert series in the Black Hills. In 2016, Darren’s dedication to his music earned him a nomination from the Native American Music Awards for “Flutist of the Year” with the release of his second album, “Between Earth and Sky: Native American Flute Music Recorded in the Black Hills.”
Adult language and adult content
A Navajo songwriter has few options left in freezing Minneapolis until she meets Lakota law school dropout, Eddie. She may have finally found a home in Eddie’s love if his self-sabotage and confused sexuality doesn’t break her will to survive the winter.
How do you tell the story about the shattering of a tribe and the resilience of a people? With truth, honor, music, and a little comic relief. The show has synchronous time periods jumping from 1906 to 1846 and back again. “Something Inside is Broken” is a love story between ‘Iine (EEN-AY) and Maj Kyle (MY-COOL-AY) of the Nisenan Tribe. ‘Iine’s father Symyk’aj (Soo-ma-ki) is the Chief of the Auburn band of Nisenan. He has trade and work agreements with Johann Sutter, but Sutter’s slave hunters don’t always follow those agreements . Now they have taken five young woman from Symyk’aj’s village, including Maj Kyle. Sutter’s fort is the gateway to the West and the rendezvous point of Captain Fremont, Kit Carson and the American soldiers. Symyk’aj is realizing his inability, and Sutter’s inability, to protect his people from this new wave of immigrants. ‘Iine, in turn, volunteers to work at Sutter’s fort. Soon there after, ‘Iine incites a riot and rescues Maj Kyle, which has a tragic ending for both characters. The satirical comic relief comes with short segments of ‘Frontier Idol’ hosted by the first ‘Governator’ of California, Peter Hardyman Burnett, who is the master of ceremonies of this 1846-style reality show where slave hunters and slave girls are pitted against one another.
Winner of the 2020 Tribal College Journal Film contest
Inspired by stories of Andean culture, a Quechua musician plays his instrument by the river to receive the musical magic from the water. The enchanting spirit of the water appears to the young man in the form of a beautiful woman.
Tsenacommacah is what the Powhatan called their territory of Tidewater Virginia. Roughly translated as “densely inhabited land.” An experiential recall takes form through the spiritual symbology of the region in this sensory short film. Ahone the Creator comes from the rising sun. But there were other spirits as well—Okee, the trickster of Chaos. A dance unfolds between them…
Indigineity Beyond The Southern Border | A Filmmakers Forum curated by Federico Cuatlacuatl (Associate Professor UVA)
“Tote” is an unexpected encounter between an old man who goes blind and his granddaughter who does not remember her childhood well. While the grandfather weaves a traditional hat, the threads of the family history unwind. Between two silences, it opens the possibility of understanding the meaning of “love” in tzotzil.
Indigineity Beyond The Southern Border | A Filmmakers Forum curated by Federico Cuatlacuatl (Associate Professor UVA)
Coapan En Espera is an experimental documentary highlighting the migratory history and diaspora of a community from Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. The community of San Francisco Coapan first started migrating to the U.S in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Now almost 30 years after the first people left their hometown, the hope of returning or not returning home one day reflects in this community’s current emotional flux of being on standby. With over half of the total community’s population now living in the U.S, the tensions and uncertainty deepen.
The history and spirituality of the Indigenous People of the American Southwest are deeply rooted in the Land. Since the beginning of time, they have been stewards and protectors of their home lands, past and present. These places intimately connect the People and their beliefs to the natural world. No place is ever abandoned, the landscape is forever living. This is their story, of the Land and who they are.
Thousands from across the globe joined in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to stop the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline. The protest brought together 200 or so tribes that have not united for more than 150 years. Standing Rock on Native Ground was there to document the events that took place.
Song Standing Strong by Tamara Podemski.
Sisters Rising is the story of six Native American women reclaiming personal and tribal sovereignty in the face of ongoing sexual violence against Indigenous women in the United States.
Dawn was in the Army, now she’s a tribal cop in the midst of the North Dakota oil boom. Sarah is an attorney and scholar fighting to overturn restrictions on tribal sovereignty. Patty teaches Indigenous women’s self-defense workshops. Loreline and Lisa are grassroots advocates working outside of the system to support survivors of violence and influence legislative change. Chalsey is writing the first anti-sex trafficking code to be introduced to a reservation’s tribal court.
Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault than all other American women. Amnesty International found that 1 in 3 Native women reports having been raped during her lifetime and that 86% of the offenses are committed by non-Native men. Non-Indian perpetrators exploit gaps in tribal jurisdictional authority and target Native women as ‘safe victims’ with near-impunity.
In a portrait of six brave participants who refuse to let a pattern of violence against Native women continue on in the shadows, this film shines an unflinching and ultimately uplifting light onto righting injustice on both an individual and systemic level.
Spanning his fifty-year dogsled racing career, ATTLA explores the life and persona of George Attla, from his childhood as a tuberculosis survivor in the Alaskan interior, to his rise as ten-time world champion and mythical state hero, to a village elder resolutely training his grandnephew to race his team one last time
Beneath the mystique of The Hamptons, among one of the wealthiest zip codes in the U.S., lies the history of the area’s original inhabitants. The Shinnecock Indian Nation were edged off their land over the course of hundreds of years, pushed onto an impoverished reservation, and condemned to watch their sacred burial grounds plowed to make way for mega-mansions and marquee attractions like the exclusive Shinnecock Hills Golf Club–five-time host of the U.S. Open.
CONSCIENCE POINT tracks this fractured history alongside the path of one woman determined to make a stand: Shinnecock activist Rebecca “Becky” Hill-Genia who, together with other tribal members and allies, has waged a relentless, years-long battle to protect the land and her tribe’s cultural heritage from the ravages of development and displacement. Now both the Shinnecock Nation and town residents face a new challenge; the onslaught of elite newcomers who threaten the very place they intend to cherish.
After 7+ years in production, Vision Maker Media and Same Land Films LLC are pleased to announce the completion of their feature-length documentary DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD. The film follows Kendra Mylnechuk Potter, a Native woman adopted into a white family, as she reconnects with her Native identity. The film, both instigator and follower, documents Kendra on this odyssey as she finds her birth mother April, also a Native adoptee, and returns to her Native homelands. Relying upon verité scenes as the bulk of the film, the story is intense, emotional and personal.
The viewer learns, along with the women, of their inherited cultural trauma as well as some of the beauty of the Lummi ways neither knew while growing up. We watch both women navigate what it means to be Native, and to belong to a tribe from the outside looking in. “The voice of the project is a true collaboration” shares Director Brooke Swaney, “every crew member from subject to our music composer in some way brings their own stories and issues of identity to the project.” DAUGHTER OF A LOST BIRD explores the gray areas of ethics surrounding transracial adoption, specifically Native American adoption, via a singular story as an entry point into a more complicated national issue.
LADONNA HARRIS: INDIAN 101, from Comanche filmmaker Julianna Brannum, chronicles the life of Comanche activist and national civil rights leader LaDonna Harris and the role that she has played in Native and mainstream America history since the 1960s. In this new verite style documentary, Brannum, the great niece of Harris, celebrates her life and the personal struggles that led her to become a voice for Native people and her contemporary work to strengthen and rebuild indigenous communities and train emerging Native leaders around the world.
Harris’s activism began in Oklahoma, fighting segregation and assisting grassroots Native and women’s groups. In Washington, LaDonna introduced landmark programs and legislation returning territory to tribes, improving education and healthcare for Native Americans, ending job discrimination against women, and targeting other pressing issues of the time. For over three decades, “Indian 101,” her course for legislators, combatted ignorance about America’s most marginalized population. Using interviews, archival footage and photographs, this film justly celebrates one of the most important women leaders in Native American and U.S. history.
Kinzua Dam, on the Allegheny River in Pennsylvania, was a flashpoint in history for the Seneca Nation of Indians. Completed in 1965, the dam was originally proposed to help mitigate flooding in Pittsburgh, almost 200 miles downriver, but the 27-mile reservoir that formed behind Kinzua Dam inundated vast tracts of the Seneca Indians’ ancestral lands, forcing their removal in breach of the United States’ oldest treaty then in effect. Set against a backdrop of a federal Indian termination policy, pork-barrel politics, and undisclosed plans for private hydropower during the post WWII boom, Lake of Betrayal reveals an untold story from American history—a one-sided battle pitting an impoverished Native American nation against some of the strongest political, social and commercial forces in the country as they fought to protect their sovereignty. And although the imposed changes resulting from the dam cost the Seneca irreplaceable cultural losses, the Kinzua crisis became a turning point to more aggressively protect and exercise their sovereignty and build a stronger Seneca Nation.
Family film appropriate for children
Family film appropriate for children
OHERO:KON – UNDER THE HUSK follows two Mohawk girls on their journey to become Mohawk women. Friends since childhood, Kaienkwinehtha and Kasennakohe are members of the traditional community of Akwesasne on the U.S./Canada border. Together, they undertake a four-year rite of passage for adolescents, called Oheró:kon, or “under the husk.” The ceremony had been nearly extinct, a casualty of colonialism and intergenerational trauma; revived in the past decade by two traditional leaders, it has since flourished. Filmmaker Katsitsionni Fox has served as a mentor, or “auntie,” to many youth going through the passage rites. In UNDER THE HUSK, Fox shares two girls’ journey through adolescence, as they rise to the tasks of Oheró:kon, learning traditional practices such as basket making and survival skills as well as contemporary teachings about sexual health and drug and alcohol prevention. UNDER THE HUSK is a personal story of a traditional practice challenging young girls spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically, shaping the women they become.
PAULETTE is an inspiring short film that follows the historic campaign of the first Native American candidate — as well as the first woman — to win the Idaho Primary for Governor. Coeur d’Alene tribal member Paulette Jordan comes from a long line of ancestral leadership deeply connected to the land of Idaho. The single mother of two ran for Governor in 2018, winning the Democratic Primary by a landslide. A victory in November would have made her the first woman to serve as governor in the state — and would have marked the first time in U.S. history that a Native American has held the governorship of any state. Despite a hard-hitting loss in the general election to a conservative Republican male opponent, Jordan’s groundbreaking bid for Governor represented a growing movement for Native people, people of color, and women fighting to have a voice and visibility in American politics. Forging ahead and staying true to her path as an Indigenous leader, Paulette Jordan is currently campaigning for a seat in the U.S. Senate and won Idaho’s Democratic primary in June 2020.
This revelatory documentary brings to light the profound and overlooked influence of Indigenous people on popular music in North America. Focusing on music icons like Link Wray, Jimi Hendrix, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Taboo (The Black Eyed Peas), Charley Patton, Mildred Bailey, Jesse Ed Davis, Robbie Robertson, and Randy Castillo, RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World shows how these pioneering Native American musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives.
Family film appropriate for children
A short animated film
Two Native American tribal court judges in California strive to reduce incarceration rates and heal their people by restoring rather than punishing offenders. Abby is a fierce, lean elder who has dedicated her life to humane justice. Claudette represents a new generation of Native American lawyers who are revisioning justice. The film follows cases in and out of their courts. Taos Proctor is facing life in prison when we meet him in Abby’s court. We follow his story over two years as Abby and her staff help him rebuild his life. A thousand miles south, Claudette reunites a nine-year-old boy with his family. Meanwhile her teenage nephew is at risk of entering the school to prison pipeline.
A short film about the environmental mission of the Virginia Institute for Marine Science.This film is sponsored by F&R Engineering, one of our valued Sponsors.
Before the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls in 1848, European colonial women lacked even the most basic rights, while Haudenosaunee women had a potent political and spiritual voice and authority in all aspects of their lives. The contact that the early suffragists had with Haudenosaunee women in New York state shaped their thinking and had a vital impact on their struggle for equality that is taken for granted today. The film follows Mohawk Bear Clan Mother Louise Herne and Professor Sally Roesch Wagner as they seek to correct the historical narrative about the origins of women’s rights in the United States.