By Native News Online Staff
In the first six months of 2022, Vision Maker Media has funded over $1 million for 11 different documentaries through its Public Media Fundfor future broadcast.
They also provided $180,000 through their Creative Shorts Fellowship fund, which supports aspiring Indigenous filmmakers and mentorships.
Documentaries supported by Vision Maker Media cover topics such as social justice, climate, health, democracy and the arts.
“Thanks to the support of many people, this year Vision Maker Media is able to offer nearly $1.2 million in direct film funding to Indigenous filmmakers,” said Executive Director Francene Blythe-Lewis (Eastern Cherokee , Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota and Diné) in a statement. . “The honor is ours, for everyone at Vision Maker Media, to be a part of creating these important stories.”
Projects selected for the 2022 Public Media Fund with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
Funding categories included: Research and Development ($5,000 to $25,000); Production (up to $150,000) and post-production (up to $100,000).
Decolonizing the Plate (working title) (funded to the tune of $131,000 for production) A Diné Woman follows the story of a Peruvian-born chef who reconnects with her indigenous culinary roots as she herself seeks to understand the role food plays in her own healing from intergenerational trauma. Natalie Benally (Navajo) from New Mexico, writer/executive producer/host
The Good Relative (working title) (funded to the tune of $67,613 for production and post-production) “The Good Relative” is the story of Faith Spotted Eagle, an internationally renowned and revered elder of the Yankton Sioux Tribe in South Dakota, as she takes on the state of South Dakota to protect their tribal rights to water – a fight that has been going on since his childhood and is the fight of his life. Judith LeBlanc (Caddo) of New York, executive producer
Under the Battle Tipi: Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society (funded to the tune of $84,137 for production and post-production) The Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society is a revival of the 19th century Ton-Kon-Gah, one of several military societies still active within the Kiowa tribe. Charles Kennedye (Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma) of Oklahoma, producer/director
Alaska Native Health Equity Project (funded to the tune of $120,000 for production) The short documentary “Alaska Native Health Equity Project” will focus on the lack of access to water and sanitation in Alaska Native villages, its impact on community health and those seeking solutions to health disparities. Jaclyn Sallee (Iñupiaq) from Alaska, executive producer
Without Arrows, long documentary (86:46) (funded to the tune of $150,000 for production) Delwin Fiddler Jr. left his reservation as a young man to escape a trauma that shattered his family and built a new life in Philadelphia, but thirteen years later he gave it all up and returned home to try to heal the past. Elizabeth Day (Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe) of Minnesota, director/producer
CROSSING THE LINE; Episodic (series) (funded for $91,450 for production) “Crossing the Line” is a four-part documentary series that will examine the epidemic of violence that exists in the towns surrounding the Navajo reservation, identifying and exposing much of the racial tension that exists in these towns, and listening to the stories not only victims of violence but also those who fight to change these spaces. Ramona D. Emerson (Navajo) of New Mexico, director/writer/co-producer
Boucha (working title); Long documentary (56:46) (funded for $150,000 for production) Boucha is not about winning and losing – on the ice or in the courtroom; it’s about a man who discovers a hidden pride in his people and his culture. Leya Hale (Dakota, Diné) of Minnesota, director/producer
Indigenous Genres (working title) (Funded to the tune of $135,800 for production) “Indigenous Genders” (working title) is a 5-part documentary series exploring the lives of people across the United States, from diverse countries, who challenge gender norms as they live their varied and full lives. Raven Two Feathers (Cherokee, Seneca, Cayuga, Comanche) from Washington, producer/director
Who owns the land? Land of O’odham! (working title); Long documentary (56:46) (funded with $25,000 for research and development) “Who owns the land? Land of O’odham! (working title) explores the impact of the expansion of the U.S.-Mexico Barrier through the personal stories of the O’odham peoples of southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico, whose ancestral lands and culture were damaged by its construction and that resist violations of tribal sovereignty, environmental protection and human rights. Victoria Westover from Arizona, producer/co-director; Mike Wilson (Tohono O’odham Nation), from Arizona, co-director
RED POWER RISING: Heirs to the Revolution (working title) (funded with $25,000 for research and development) At its core, “Red Power Rising: Heirs to the Revolution” (working title) is a radical account of the American Indian civil rights struggle that will utilize the intimate journeys of the movement’s leaders’ sons, daughters, and grandchildren. to reveal the deeper story of when a defiant group of modern warriors wielded nonviolent protest, global television coverage and, at times, even the end of a gun to reclaim “the Indian soul.” Maryland’s Jeff Bieber, co-executive producer
The Bigger Picture: Frances Densmore and Mountain Chief (1916) (funded $20,000 for post-production) “The Bigger Picture” is a short-lived historical documentary series hosted by historian Vincent Brown that uses iconic photographs to explore key moments in our shared past and how photographs have shaped our understanding of that past. This intriguing image appears to show a white ethnographer, Frances Densmore, documenting a dying culture in a photograph with Blackfoot Piegan Mountain Chief. However, as this episode shows, Mountain Chief was very media-savvy and took an active and public role in protecting the rights and meeting the needs of the people of the Blackfeet Piegan Tribe. Stephanie Carter, Executive Producer
Projects selected for the Creative Shorts Grants 2022:
Emerging Indigenous filmmakers submitted a short film – documentary, dramatic, experimental or animated – on topics such as Indigenous cultures, values, stories, contemporary life, environmental justice, social justice, youth, Elders and/or Indigenous empowerment. Funding for production can reach $25,000, including $5,000 to support the mentorship of a film professional.
The Circle of Chawce (funded for $25,000) A Native American boy’s family mythology comes to life in a 4th grade classroom. Fellow/Writer/Director: Randi LeClair (Pawnee Nation) of Oklahoma. Mentor: Ramona D. Emerson (Northern Navajo Agency of the Navajo Nation)
Four Nights and a Fire (funded for $15,000)
“Four Nights and a Fire” is a narrative drama short film. This film revolves around an Ojibwe ceremony performed upon the death of a loved one, where the spirit of a recently deceased person takes a four-day journey to the afterlife and must overcome temptations along the way. This is my interpretation of the spirit journey, based on my own experience of grief over the unexpected loss of my father, and the resilience I found in following in his footsteps. Fellow/Writer/Director: Alexander Nystrom (Red Cliff Band of Chippewa Indians) of California. Mentor: Amman Abbasi
[Native] Fire as Medicine (funded for $25,000) “[Native] Fire as Medicine” follows California First Nations firefighters, environmentalists and cultural leaders as they use fire to revitalize Native culture and prevent catastrophic wildfires. Fellow/Writer/Producer/Director: Tisina Ta-till-ium Parker (Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation/Kudadiki Paiute/Kashia Pomo) from California. Mentor: Cecilia Shakerley
Glenburn 12WP (funded for $25,000) Roberta, an urban Mohawk living in New York, brings her downstairs best friend, Krystal, to town. Krystal disappears and her body is eventually found. Krystal unfortunately ends up being an MMIW stat at the hands of a white male. Roberta returns to their usual watering hole to try to figure out what happened. Companion/Producer/Lead Actor: Tanis Parenteau (Métis Nation of Alberta (Cree) from New York. Mentor: Yvonne Russo (Rosebud Reservation – Lakota)
Lookout 32 (funded for $23,210) “Lookout 32” highlights the importance of indigenous folklore, superstitions and traditions, and how members of the indigenous community from different tribes and backgrounds can stay connected to their heritage. Isolated, a firefighter discovers a terrifying Native American legend. Companion/Director/Producer/Writer: Littlebear Sanchez (Lipan Apache) from California. Mentor: Nathan Harrison
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