November 15, 2007

Film fest emphasizes inclusion

Report from the American Indian Film FestivalFrom the opening night onward, I had a feeling of being present at a community gathering. The festival, sponsored by the American Indian Film Institute (AIFI), is a nine-day celebration of ambitious scope and with an emphasis on inclusiveness. More than half the films submitted were accepted, giving many filmmakers a chance to see their work on the big screen for the first time. (This year more than 90 films were screened, out of approximately 145 entries.) Indigenous filmmakers were strongly represented, and films spanned a range of Indian nations and North American regions.

Over half the films in this year's festival were documentaries. While the 2,000-plus hours of documentary film are exhaustive, where else would you have the opportunity to see a 16-year-old girl's film demonstrating the traditional art of Karuk basket weaving, with narration in the Karuk language? The festival takes seriously the task of documenting living cultures, and many of the films record traditional dances, songs, and ceremonies.

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