Representation matters. It matters because it impacts how we interact with our fellow Americans, the way that we educate our children, and it shapes our path forward as a democracy. Storytelling and filmmaking have suffered from a dearth of representation of important groups that influenced American democracy, notably Native Americans. Native culture is rich, steeped in history, and multifaceted, yet mainstream films do not often capture this nuance. The Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival honors the contributions of Native Americans and reinvigorates conversations about telling stories of indigenous life.
The Festival aims to raise awareness about Native American language, cultures, and societies through films that share Native American perspectives. The Festival, which is the only one of its kind on the East Coast, brings together artists, authors, cineastes, and actors who share a passion for film and features experiential learning opportunities for the entire public. In the past, filmmakers have used demeaning stereotypes when incorporating Native characters or storylines, which lack nuance, accuracy, and complexity. The Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival offers new insight into previously under-told narratives.
It is befitting that this important East Coast American Indian film festival is held in Virginia. Long before English settlers first arrived to establish the Jamestown settlement, Native Americans inhabited the land that would become the birthplace of our nation. Upon their arrival, Native Americans shared their mastery of the land with the English settlers and ultimately ensured the Colony’s survival. In 1619 Virginia, three cultures collided: Virginia Indian, African, and English. The interactions between these cultures forged what would eventually become the United States and demonstrates that diversity has always been an integral part of the American story. Representation of these groups and their contributions in the stories we share has an impact on how our communities reflect on, and share, our collective history. Through the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival, we hope to raise visibility around the need for more diversity in film, as well as elevate the perspectives of Native Americans in society.