March 20, 2007

Palm Springs film festival

Telling stories, the Native way"It's for cultural education," Mildred Browne said, a member of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuillla Indians and chairwoman of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum's Board of Directors. "And it's to give a vehicle for contemporary Native (American) artists. So they have a platform to bring cultural issues to light."

Andrea Menard, a Métis Indian, made her first appearance at the festival to show her film "The Velvet Devil," which wrapped up closing night Sunday.

Based on a Métis woman who turns her back on her culture to become a jazz singer, "The Velvet Devil" is described as a "rags-to-riches" story that combines the musical dynamics of such films like "Lady Sings the Blues" and "Moulin Rouge."

"It completely breaks all stereotypes," Menard said. "It has a lot of different qualities that make people go, 'Oh, Indians can sing?' Or 'Oh, they can play characters in the '40s without wearing buckskin?'"
Burning it up in Palm Springs--Part 1Our Native Lens film showed before a great documentary called When Your Hands Are Tied by Mia Boccella Hartle and Marley Shabala. I found Mia and her entire family to be sweet and supportive…role models for kind generous people. As the director of this film Mia wanted to present multiple facets of contemporary Native teen views while also creating a vehicle for adults to be moved to think about their own heritage and identity journey. The producer Marley is a regular riot. (She had me laughing so hard doin her Tina Turner moves!) Marley is smart, talented and to the point. She brings to the project her candid approach to investigative reporting but she also is very rooted in her commitment to proper cultural conduct and thoughtful prayer.

When Your Hands Are Tied shows that there are teens in the Southwest on the cutting edge of combining culture and modern lifestyle influences. They rap, are in punk bands, skate, are b-boys, artists, practice rights of passage, run, sing and are healers. Mia and Marley's film shows that there are many ways that youth living on the rez can be very creative with in the context of their environments. These youth can at once be proud of their Native heritage and also express their own unique ways of how they walk through, as one speaker in the film puts it, "two worlds."

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