American Indian Film Festival 41

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2016  Nominees







Shawnouk, a native teenager, kills a man during a robbery and flees into the forest. deciding to return to his atikamekw village in Québec (Canada), he tries to redeem himself using traditional cleansing rituals.

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Iqaluit, DIRECTOR: Benoit Pilon

Travelling to the Arctic for the first time, Carmen arrives in Iqaluit to tend to her husband, Gilles, a construction worker who has been seriously injured. Trying to get to the bottom of what happened, she strikes up a friendship with Noah, Gilles' Inuk friend, and realizes they share a similar story. Together, Carmen and Noah head out on the Frobisher Bay - she, looking for answers to her questions; he, trying to stop his son from committing what can't be undone.

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ON THE FARM, director: Rachel Talalay

Based on journalist Stevie Cameron’s 2010 bestselling account of real-life events, and released in Canada as Unclaimed, the film follows the women who fought against the indifference of police that allowed one of Canada’s most prolific serial killers, Robert Pickton, to murder upwards of 50 women during the span of six years. The film forgoes sensationalism and relegates Pickton himself to a bit-part. Main character Nikki Taylor (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers), a sex worker who notices the disappearance of an alarming number of women, teams up with a female police officer and social worker, to investigate. They face a slow-moving police department until the media takes notice and it becomes a national story. However, scant justice is served for those women lost.

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TE ATA, DIRECTOR: Nathan Frankowski

Te Ata (TAY’ AH-TAH) is based on the inspiring, true story of Mary Thompson Fisher, a woman who traversed cultural barriers to become one of the greatest Native American performers of all time. Born in Indian Territory, and raised on the songs and stories of her Chickasaw tribe, Te Ata’s journey to find her true calling led her through isolation, discovery, love and a stage career that culminated in performances for a United States president, European royalty and audiences across the world. Yet of all the stories she shared, none are more inspiring than her own.

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The saver, DIRECTOR: Wiebke von Carolsfeld  

THE SAVER tells the story of Fern, a teenaged girl who finds herself orphaned in the middle of a harsh Montreal winter. Determined to avoid her mother’s tragic fate, Fern sets out to build a new life for herself. When Youth Protection comes looking, she bolts. At one of her mother’s cleaning jobs, she finds the book 50 Ways to become a Millionaire. ‘All you need to do is save,’ it promises. Fern decides to do just that, replacing her grief with the quest to become a millionaire.

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Self-taught, Chloé Leriche has written, directed, edited and produced a number of short films since 2001. She works in both fiction and art video. Her work has screened on TV, in museums and at numerous festivals.
Starting in 2004 she collaborated in the creation of a large number of shorts as part of Vidéo Paradiso, working with street kids in Montréal and teaching them to use video. She then joined the team of Wapikoni Mobile in encouraging young people from different native communities in Québec and Ontario to express themselves by means of documentaries and music videos. During this period she began writing the script for BEFORE THE STREETS, her début fiction feature, made with the support of the three Atikamekw communities in Québec, and produced with Les Films de l’autre.


Director: Benoit Pilon, Iqaluit

Quebec director and screenwriter Benoit Pilon started out in documentaries. His feature-length debut, Roger Toupin, épicier variété (2003), was a critical success, winning a Jutra for best documentary, the Bayard d’Or for best documentary at the Festival international du film francophone de Namur, and a special mention at the Festival Vision du Réel, in Nyon, Switzerland.

His first feature drama, Ce qu’il faut pour vivre (2008), won a number of prizes in Quebec and abroad, including three at the Montreal World Film Festival, a Genie Award for best direction, and the Jutra for best Quebec film. It also made the shortlist of nine films nominated for the Oscar for best foreign-language film. 

With several feature-length projects now on the go, Benoit Pilon also runs the documentary program at Quebec’s Institut national de l’image et du son (L’Inis); he has tutored students there since 2013 and been involved with its activities for many years.



Nathan Frankowski is an international director whose work has taken him to more than 30 countries. He's best known for directing the successful 2008 documentary Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed, which was the highest grossing doc of 2008, bringing in $8 million at the box office.

Frankowski’s directing credits for scripted films include the independent feature No Saints for Sinners (Keith David, James Cosmo), the highly anticipated To Write Love on Her Arms (Kat Dennings, Chad Michael Murray, Corbin Bleu) and his latest, Unlimited (Fred Thompson). He also served as second unit director on The Path to 9/11, a $40 million Disney/ABC mini-series, for which he directed sequences in Morocco, New York City and the CIA headquarters.


Director: rachel talalay, on the farm

For 25 years, Rachel has been an inspiration and a guiding light for women filmmakers, producing, teaching, being an activist, a feminist and, most notably, a director. She has created history: she is the 7th woman to direct Doctor Who in the show’s 52 year history (shooting the critically acclaimed and fan-favorite two-part finale of series 8); she is the first woman to direct an episode of the BBC hit series Sherlock (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, airing early 2017); and she is still the only woman to helm a film in any major slasher movie franchise with the sixth film of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

As her 1995 cult classic Tank Girl demonstrates, Talalay champions stories about strong women. "I have experienced a lot of anti-women biases and if there’s one thing I can choose, it’s to tell stories that fight that." She is the recipient of Women In Film + Television Vancouver (WIFTV)'s 2016 Directors Guild of Canada Woman of the Year Award. 


Director: Wiebke von Carolsfeld, the saver

Born and educated in Germany (University of Cologne), Montreal based Wiebke von Carolsfeld has made Canada her home since 1989. After working for years as a picture editor, she made her directorial debut with Marion Bridge. The film won numerous awards including Best First Feature at the Toronto International Film Festival and continued to play at festivals around the world. Subsequently, it opened to critical acclaim in Canada as well as in the US and several countries in Europe.

Since, she has directed Walk With Us, a documentary about artists
Cardiff/Bures Miller, as well as written and directed STAY, a Canadian/Irish coproduction, starring Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) and Aidan Quinn (Legends of the Fall). STAY had its world premier at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 before opening theatrically in Canada and the US.



Gil Birmingham, TE ATA

Award-winning actor Gil Birmingham has appeared in more than 40 film and television productions. Birmingham generated public acclaim for his portrayal as Billy Black in the blockbuster films TwilightNew MoonEclipse and Breaking Dawn, based on the best-selling books by Stephenie Meyer.He appeared in the film The Love Ranch (2010) with Helen Mirren and Joe Pesci, directed by Taylor Hackford. Gil appears as Wounded Bird in the Oscar Award winning film Rango (2011) with Johnny Depp. He also appeared in the film Crooked Arrows with Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) in 2012. Other film credits include roles in Shouting Secrets with Twilight Saga cast member Chaske Spenser, End of the SpearDreamkeeperGentle BenThe Doe Boy, and Love's Long Journey, among others. Birmingham also appears in the film The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammar.




Graham Greene was born at Ohsweken, Ontario, Canada, June 22, 1952. After working at several jobs that included draughting, high steel work, welding, carpentry and audio engineering, he took up acting. He traveled to England and South America where he performed in, and taught, theatre.

His many stage credits include The CrackwalkerJessicaHistory of the Village of the Small Huts and DY Lips Oughtta Move Kapuskasing, for which Greene won the Dora Maver Moore Award for Best Actor. Greene then co-starred in Dances With Wolves, which garnered an Oscar nomination. Since then, his many film credits include Die Hard With A VengeanceNorthGreen MileMaverick and Snow Dogs.

Among his many television credits include are Exhibit ARocket ScienceWolf LakeThe Red Green ShowNorth of Sixty and Dudley the Dragon, which earned Greene two Gemini awards. Greene was also the recipient of several Best Actor awards for his roles in SkinsThe Education of Little Tree and Northern Exposure, at the First Americans in the Arts Film Awards, as well as Best Actor at the Japan Film Festival for Skins, and a Grammy for his narration work with Winton Marsalis and Kate Winslet in Listen to the Story Teller.


RYKKO BELLEMARE, before the streets/ avant les rues

Born in La Tuque in 1991, Rykko Bellemare lives in Wemotaci. He is a drummer, singer, and the manager of Northern Voice, a musical group from Wemotaci that has performed at numerous Canadian pow wows since 2010. Northern Voice consists of some fifteen drummers and singers as well as four female back-up vocalists. In 2014 and 2015, Northern Voice was nominated in the category Best Contemporary Pow Wow CD at the Aboriginal People's Choice Music Awards. They collaborated with the band A Tribe Called Red on the pieces Sisters and Suplex.

Rykko has taken part in and won numerous traditional Native dance competitions in Québec and Canada. He was a member of the Québec delegation of Atikamekw dancers at the World Culture Festival in Berlin in 2011, where he performed before a crowd of over 70,000. An adept of mixed martial arts, he has also fought in a number of amateur matches in Mauricie.

Rykko follows the traditional lifestyle every day, spending time in the forest, hunting, fishing and trapping. He is the proud father of baby Miyona, who also appears in the film.



Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, On the Farm

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is an emerging filmmaker and actor. She is Blackfoot from the Kainai First Nation as well as Sámi from northern Norway. Elle-Máijá graduated from Vancouver Film School's acting program and she also has an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia in First Nation Studies with a Minor in Women's Gender Studies. Some of Elle-Máijá's film and television credits include Reaper, The Guard, Shattered, and Another Cinderella Story. 

Additionally, she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress at the AIFI's 2011 American Indian Motion Picture Awards for her work in White Indians Walking.  


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Imajyn Cardinal, The Saver

Daughter to award winning actress, Michelle Thrush, Imajyn Cardinal (Cree) is known for the The Saver, The Journey Home and Blackstone.


Q’orianka Kilcher, Te Ata

At the age of 14, Q’orianka Kilcher emerged into the front ranks of young actors with her portrayal of Pocahontas opposite Colin Farrell and Christian Bale in Terrence Malick’s Oscar nominated film The New World, an epic about the encounter between English and North American societies in the early 1600s.

Some of Q’orianka’s other credits include starring in the title role of “Princess Kaiulani,” the award-winning television show Sons of Anarchy, TIFF 2015 selected film Sky, Longmire, Shouting Secrets,Hallmark Hall of Fame’s Firelight, The Killing, the miniseries Neverland and The Power Of Few, starring Christopher Walken and Christian Slater, a film she not only starred in, but also produced via her production company iQ Films.


roseanne supernault, the northlander

Roseanne Supernault is a Vancouver based, award-winning actress originally from East Prairie Metis Settlement, Alberta. Recognizable from the APTN hit TV Series, "Blackstone," the historical pre-contact epic, "Maina," where she plays the title character, and TIFF Top 10 selection, "Rhymes For Young Ghouls.” 

Supernault is trained in Theatre, Film, and Television. She graduated from 4 years at Victoria School of the Arts an institution focused on not only the history of the arts, but the execution and constant immersion in the field. 

Through her teens she spent vital extra-curricular hours dedicated to team sports, film acting workshops, and immersion in First Nations Culture. She was raised by her single father and had an upbringing in a large family; her intrinsic ties to Metis Cree culture and value system is what keeps her balanced in her life and work. 

Since then she has studied under various acting coaches, but mostly fostered her craft on Film/TV sets and on the stage. She was recently accepted into the Tom Todoroff Acting Conservatory in New York City. You will see her again on the big screen as a lead in the post-apocalyptic sci-fi, “The Northlander,” and the young audience drama, “Juliana and the Medicine Fish.” 

She has also commenced her journey into teaching and producing - with the former, developing and facilitating Next Gen Acting Workshops, an acting training series grounded in practical approaches to the craft. With the latter, developing film projects, successfully debuting her first short film, “The Nod,” which premiered at the American Indian Film Festival and was nominated for Best Live Short. 

The ambitious Supernault has broken ground for the path before her, sure to include an auspicious and lucrative career filled with creativity, production, and personal success.




Brandon Oakes, The Saver

Brandon Oakes, an actor, dancer and artist, is Mohawk from Akwesasne which straddles Ontario-Quebec-New York. He has performed and toured extensively throughout North America with several Native dance theatres. He attended the Centre for Indigenous Theatre in Toronto and then went on to study contemporary dance and acting at the Banff Centre for the Arts. Some of Brandon's film credits include, Pathfinders (2007), Taking Chances (2009), Rhymes for Young Ghouls (2013).




Besides being a well-known actor, Natar Ungalaaq is a sculptor whose work is in many major collections of Inuit Art Worldwide. He was born in Igloolik (Nunavut) and debuted on screen in David Green's Frost Fire. He played in Claude Massots's Kabloonak and was cast as the lead in Zacharias Kunuk's Atanarjuat, named the Top Canadian Film of All-Time by The Toronto International Film Festival in 2014. He then starred in Kunuk's film The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, co-directed by Norman Cohn. In 2009, as Tiivii in Benoit Pilon's Ce Qu'il Fault Pour Vivre, he won a Jutra and a Genie as Best Actor.




nathaniel arcand, the northlander

Nathaniel Arcand is Plains Cree (Nehiyaw), from the Alexander First Nation Reserve. He was born and raised in Edmonton. Arcand was excited by the prospect of acting at age five when he first saw a Bruce Lee movie at a drive-in theatre. After watching the movie, he asked his mother how he could become an actor. She told him she didn't know, but that if he wanted to be an actor, he should follow his dreams. He acted in high school and was discovered by a talent agent. Arcand's first small break in film was the 1994 role of Tree-Climber in "Savage Land," alongside Graham Greene. A few roles followed, but his career took off upon landing the role of William MacNeil in the CBC television series "North of 60." In 1997 he was nominated for a Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Supporting Role in a Dramatic Series for this role. He gained extensive experience on this successful Canadian television series as well as 0n "Due South." Arcand also worked with legendary film director Lord Richard Attenborough, acting alongside Pierce Brosnan in "Grey Owl." Today Arcand is a well-respected and established actor. He had lead roles in both "Montana Sky" and in Twentieth Century Fox Films' "Pathfinder." In the Showcase television series "Moose TV," he stars as Clifford Mathew who, with his friend George (played by Adam Beach), decide to reopen an abandoned television station in the isolated town of Moose. He also starred as Victor Merasty in the first two seasons of the edgy APTN series "Blackstone." Other notable feature roles Arcand has been in include performances in "Black Cloud," "Skins," "Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning," "Speaking of Sex" and "American Outlaws." His television work includes the miniseries "DreamKeeper," "The Lone Ranger" (as Tonto), "100 Days in the Jungle," "Fear Itself" and "Into the West."


Christine Tootoo, Iqaluit

Iqaluit marks Christine’s screen debut. In 2009 she began touring Canada as a throat singer and participated in the Canada Games in Prince Edward Island. She was part of the Arctic Winter Games in 2010 in Grand Prairie (Alberta) and again in 2012 in Whitehorse (Yukon). In 2013 she and a friend performed as throat singers at the Folk on the Rocks music festival in Yellowknife (Northwest Territories). In Iqaluit, she plays the throat singer Crystal Mullin. She now studies acting at the University of Winnipeg.



Kayla Dailey, Power Lines

 Power Lines is Kayla's film debut. She likes hacky sack, spray-painting, skateboarding, writing music, anarchy, daisies, black, and pit bulls.



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For seven years Kwena has devoted herself to singing and dancing, exploring both their traditional and contemporary expressions. She dances wearing the jingle dress, she sings with Northern Voice and she also sings pop music. In 2015 she performed in La Tuque, opening for Samian. She can also be seen on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in the series La Brigade des Nations and Le Rythme, the First Nations version of The Voice.

Kwena’s goal is to become a singer, social worker or lawyer. Like the character she plays, in real life she is Rykko’s sister, and is herself very involved with her culture. Talking about the drums she says, “I was still in my mother’s womb and already I could hear that sound. I experience my culture through music and dance. To me it’s essential to practice it and to share it. I hope to become a lawyer so that I can be active in the causes that impact First Nations.”


Tantoo Cardinal, On the Farm

Actress Tantoo Cardinal, a Member of the Order of Canada, one of the country's highest civilian honors. The Order of Canada recognizes Cardinal for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada.

Arguably the most widely recognized Native Actress of her generation; Tantoo has appeared in numerous plays, television programs, and films, including Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Black Robe, Loyalties, Luna, Spirit of the Whale, Unnatural & Accidental, Marie-Anne, Sioux City, Silent Tongue, Mother's & Daughter's and Smoke Signals. Recent work includes the films Eden, Maina, Shouting Secrets and From Above.

Her stirring performance in Loyalties earned her a Genie nomination, American Indian Film Festival Best Actress Award, the People's choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival, plus Best Actress Awards at International Film Festivals in Zimbabwe and Portugal.

Cardinal was just honored with the 2015 ACTRA Award of Excellence, other honors include Best Actress - Elizabeth Sterling Award in Theatre for All My Relations, First Americans in the Arts Totem Award for her portrayal of the character Katrina in Widows at the Forum Stage in Los Angeles. She won the American Indian Film Festival's Best Actress Award as well as the first Rudy Martin Award for Outstanding Achievement by a Native American in Film for Where the Rivers Flow North, a Gemini Award for North of 60 and a Leo Award for Blackstone.

Her television credits include recurring roles on the series: Blackstone, The Killing, Arctic Air, Strange Empire,The Guard, North of 60, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, The Lightening Field, Street Legal, The Campbell's, Gunsmoke, Tom Stone, Myth Quest, Lonesome Dove and Renegade MOW's include Full Flood, The Englishman's Boy, Dreamkeeper and the PBS documentary Nobody's Girls.

For her contributions to the Native Artistic community, Cardinal won the Eagle Spirit Award. She has also been honored with the MacLeans' magazine Honor Roll as Actress of the Year, the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Toronto Women in Film and Television, an International Women in Film Award for her lasting contribution to the arts, and induction to the CBC/Playback Hall of Fame.


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Fractured land, DIRECTOR: Fiona Rayher, Damien Gillis

What would it be like to live alongside one of the shapers of human events, in their youth, before they transformed history? In Fractured Land, we follow Caleb Behn, a young Dene lawyer who may become one of this generation’s great leaders, if he can discover how to reconcile the fractures within himself, his community and the world around him, blending modern tools of the law with ancient wisdom. As founder, Bill McKibben, puts it, "Anyone who can throw a hatchet and sue you is a force to be reckoned with."

Caleb sports a Mohawk and tattoos, hunts moose, and wears a business suit. His father is a devout environmentalist and residential schoolsurvivor.His mother isin a seniorposition in the oil and gas industry. His people, at the epicenter of some of the largest fracking operations on earth, are deeply divided. How does Caleb balance their need for jobs with his sacred duty to defend their territory? He has arrived at a key moment in history, sees the contradictions, and wants to reconcile them.

Filmmakers Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis have been following Caleb for four years, capturing hundreds of hours of footage of his development, through law school, sharing knowledge with other Indigenous peoples, speaking to larger and larger audiences, dealing with deep community divisions, and building a movement.

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Red Power Engery, DIRECTORS: Lisa D. Olken, Larry Pourier

Modern Indian Country is in an ideological battle. Today’s highly contentious energy debate between fossil fuels and renewable energy production is pitting poor tribes against rich tribes and economic sovereignty against environmental stewardship while the fate of their homelands hangs in the balance. American reservations contain 10% of America’s renewable energy potential, 20% of known oil and gas reserves and 30% of the coal reserves west of the Mississippi. Native-told stories from Western and Great Plains American Indian tribes - North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado - illustrate the complex realities of American Indian reservations grappling with how to balance the material needs of today with the potentially negative consequences of tomorrow.

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What was OurS, DIRECTOR: Mat Hames

A young Arapaho journalist and a teenage powwow princess travel from the Wind River Indian Reservation with a wise Shoshone elder to explore vanished artifacts kept in the archives of a museum. The three uncover ancestral objects kept in boxes for many years, setting each on a journey to recover their vanished objects, while discovering their true purpose. As the elder looks to the future, the young people look to the past to revive hope for their beloved home.

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Through the experiences of Lakota and Dakota men and women from 30 years old to 97, lay person and Native Clergy, we hear voices that provoke great thought. It is a film that shares the 150 years Christian Experience of the Lakota and Dakota People and their own spiritual decolonization.



Badger Creek, DIRECTORS: Randy Vasquez, Jonathan Skurnik

Badger Creek is a half-hour documentary portrait of a Blackfeet (Pikuni) family, the Mombergs, who live on the lower Blackfeet Reservation in Montana near the banks of Badger Creek. In addition to running a prosperous ranching business, they practice a traditional Blackfeet cultural lifestyle that sustains and nourishes them, including sending their children to a Blackfeet language immersion school, participating in Blackfeet spiritual ceremonies and maintaining a Blackfeet worldview. The film takes us through a year in the life of the family, and through four seasons of the magnificent and traditional territory of the Pikuni Nation.

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We get up close and personal with Steven Paul Judd, the dynamic and bold 21st century renaissance man. One of the art world’s most energetic, accessible and celebrated figures, this self-taught artist’s love for pop culture and Native American art has given him a massive following. This insightful portrait shows how Judd indigenizes the popular everyday to allow our young to see themselves in all aspects of life, while at the same time making his own dreams a reality through his passion and zest for life.

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ISHI'S RETURN, DIRECTOR: Chris Eyre, Roberta Grossman

ISHI'S RETURN is a half-hour film about Ishi, billed in 1911 as the "last wild Indian" when he wandered out of the woods in Oroville, CA, and became a national sensation. When Ishi died, his brain was removed and sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Eighty years later, his descendants in California fight to have his remains repatriated to his ancestral home. ISHI'S RETURN is from Native filmmakers Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) and Brian Wescott (Athabascan/Yup'ik) and producer Roberta Grossman (500 Nations, Homeland).


The Jingle Dress Tradition, DIRECTOR: Rick Anderson

Ojibwe stories tell of the beginnings and the healing powers of the Jingle Dress Dance, a popular tradition throughout America’s Native communities. Produced with the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

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REZilience, DIRECTOR: Jayson Stewart

Serpent Lake Reserve has been forgotten. This indigenous community in Canada's far north experiences a catastrophe that will decimate 90% of the population. A military experiment gone horribly wrong exposes centuries of genocide and corruption and unleashes a seemingly unstoppable evil.




A family struggles to heal after the death of their beloved matriarch. Bad habits formed and loved ones shut out. When another goes missing, will the men have another chance to reclaim their life and reunite with their missing Sister, Daughter?


STOLEN, DIRECTOR: Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs

A young girl escapes from a foster home, only to be picked up by a dangerous stranger. In Canada, there are over 1200 documented cases of missing and murdered Native American girls and women. This film shines light on the issue.


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EARTH REVOLUTION by Ta'Kaiya Blaney, DIRECTOR: Robbie Romero

Ta’Kaiya Blaney is an actor, singer-songwriter and Native Children’s Survival (NCS) Youth Ambassador from Tla A’min Nation, Turtle Island.

Written and performed by Ta’Kaiya, EARTH REVOLUTION features children from around the world in a call to action to protect Mother Earth and all our relations for future generations.  During COP21 EARTH REVOLUTION also screened at the Rights of Nature Tribunal on 5 December 2015 where Ta’Kaiya closed the event with a new song TURN THE WORLD AROUND.  The TV news program Democracy Now filmed her performance and it has received more than 300,000 views on the Democracy Now Facebook and YouTube pages.


No Worries by Moni, Director: Kahena Cinema

Moni is an urban NDN, Born & Raised in East Oakland, and moved to Big Island as a young teen. MONI blends Soul/R&B/Electronic music fused with Reggae & Hip Hop.

Moni is Dine' & Laguna Pueblo. Classically trained at UC Berkeley on scholarship funded by a non-profit called "The Young Musician's Program" during grade school, as well as growing up being surrounded by musicians at home.

Moni has opened for Anuhea, Hirie, Scarub of The Living Legends, One-Be-Lo of Binary Star, Layzie Bone & The Mo Thugs Family, & KC & JoJo.

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Crystal Shawanda grew up on the Wikwemikong reserve on an island in Ontario, Canada, Her parents raised her on Country music and taught her to sing and play guitar, but it was her oldest brother who introduced her to the blues. He would hang out in the basement cranking Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Etta James, and Crystal would sit at the top of the stairs, straining to hear those soulful sounds. There was a part of her that often wandered if she would ever be able to sing like that. And when no one was home, Crystal would practice singing the blues.

Crystal’s album is a modern take on the blues, but is deeply rooted with heart-wrenching laments and catchy rump-shakers. It’s where the north meets the south and captures the resilience of the human spirit — much like the way Crystal does.

Crystal Shawanda is reminiscent of a time gone by. She will make you feel every word with a powerful voice that never fails, pure and gritty at the same time. Do yourself a favour and see if she’s playing somewhere near you.


REZ LIFE by Blue Flamez, DIRECTOR: Diego Giovanni Sanchez

In 2014 Ibori Records founder Chaz Mortimer received funding from the Oregon Arts Commission to team with professional teaching artists in a program designed to extend professional arts experiences to Indigenous Youth throughout Oregon.

"Beats Lyrics Leaders" was formed around song writing retreats and music training programs, teaming up a group of 16 Native American youth in Oregon with entertainment personalities and musician mentors.

After 2 years of working with the youth, they eventually recorded the hit song Rez Life in Seattle with "Uncle Rick Clifford" (recorded Tupac's Greatest Hits, Gloria Gaynor's "I will Survive", etc). Through additional funding from the Meyer Memorial Trust, they youth were able to finish the project and shoot the music video.




Injunuity is a unique mix of animation, music and real thoughts from real people exploring our shared past, our turbulent present, and our undiscovered future from Native American perspective. Told in nine short pieces and covering a variety of topics important to Indian Country and all communities. Injunuity 2.0 will air nationally on PBS in 2018. Produced in partnership with the California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, INJUNUITY: RED WOMAN RISING was created to raise awareness about domestic violence issues in the Urban Indian community,

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The Iroquois Creation Story film tells the story of how our earth came to be according to the oral story recited by the Haudenosaunee people for hundreds of years. This 17-minute film combines animation and dance to tell the story of Sky Woman and her Grandsons Flint and Sky Holder.

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In the folklore of most cultures around the world there are stories of magical little folk. And the Arctic is no exception. Inuit traditional knowledge is filled with references to many different races and tribes of little folk. These beings always try to avoid human encounters, but over the years Inuit hunters and shaman have gathered stories and experiences to help us understand these small inhabitants.



The oral history of Inuit is filled with many folktales, legends, and myths. In this traditional story, a young owl catches a lemming to eat. Inuit stories are often instructive, and with this fable, children quickly learn the value of being clever and humble, and why pride and arrogance are to be avoided.

This short puppet film utilizes composited photographs and a set made with actual Arctic plants and lichen to create an authentic retelling of this ancient Arctic fable. This short film provides a glimpse of traditional Inuit values and beliefs.




As Pine Ridge Indian Reservation faces the lasting effects of inter-generational trauma as well as a recent teen suicide epidemic, the voices of Little Wound High School students rise up in hope through their traditions, language, and the Lakota warrior heritage.

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MEDICINE WOMAN, DIRECTOR: Christine Lesiak, Princella P. Redcorn

How do you heal a people? Wehnona Stabler has learned that you use what you have. “The medicine, the pills, the shots, the vaccines and all that—it’s all good you know. But there’s that other place it doesn’t touch—your heart, your mind, your feelings.” When a way of life is shattered, it’s often the women who become the healers. Today’s medicine women struggle, as Doctor Susan did, to serve their people, to raise their families, to hold onto their tribal identities. How can they hope to mend the wounds of body and soul that history has created? And what have they learned about news ways of healing that can help us all?

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Navajo Math Circles follows Navajo students in a lively collaboration with mathematicians. The math circles approach puts children in charge of exploring mathematics to their own joy and satisfaction. Applications of math in Native culture highlight the special connections between Navajo culture, natural beauty, and mathematics.

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Minnesotan American Indian communities are reclaiming traditional practices around Sacred Tobacco while educating their people on the growth of commercial tobacco's frequent use in sacred traditions in order to untangle the two and promote a healthy lifestyle for future generations.


Congratulations to All Nominees!