American Indian Film Institute

Our Mission

The American Indian Film Institute (AIFI) fosters understanding of the culture, traditions and contemporary issues of Native Americans.  The first American Indian Film Festival, presented in 1975 in Seattle was relocated in 1977 to San Francisco, where it found its permanent home.  Today AIFI is the major Native American media and cultural art presenter in California and its Festival is the world's oldest and best known exposition dedicated to Native Americans in cinema.

AIFI's goals are: 1) to bring the broader media culture the Native voices, viewpoints and stories historically excluded from mainstream media; 2) to develop Indian and non-Indian audiences for this work; and 3) to advocate for authentic media representations of Indians.

The Film Festival, which marked its 41st Annual in November 2016, has screened over 3,100 films from First Nation communities in the U.S. and Canada.  The Festival, uniquely produced by Native Americans, includes film screenings and a catalog, panel discussions, workshops, an awards ceremony, and networking events.  The off-season Tribal Touring Program brings media tools and training to tribal youth, a selection of whose works are screened during the Festival.

The Festival is built upon AIFI's founding belief in film as a transformative tool.  The Festival presents contemporary Indian voices that dispel popular, often damaging, myths and advance appreciation of Native artistic and societal contributions.

In our Anniversary year we rededicate ourselves to the next generation.  The challenges facing Indian youth, especially on reservations, are staggering, with linguistic and cultural isolation, poverty and other stressors placing them at high risk for truancy, delinquency and gang activity.  The Festival, paired with the Tribal Touring Program, helps youth transition into adulthood by providing role models, artistic outlets and, through the collective viewing of Native cinema, a sense of their place in a larger community.

Defending Our Way of Life Through Film


AIFI is a 501(c)(3) Tax Deductible Organization.