Curated by the UCLA Film & Television Archive
Native Americans first appeared on film in 1895 at the dawn of the medium but were totally excluded from any meaningful role in the production of their own cinematic images for virtually the entire century to follow. They continue to be marginalized in the entertainment industry today. Over the last 25 years, however, a renaissance in independent First Nations filmmaking has occurred. This phenomenon is, however, not sui generis. Indeed, since the 1970s, First Nations communities, after centuries-old legacies of genocide, displacement, forced assimilation, poverty, alcoholism, and demeaning media images, have worked incrementally to take command of their destinies and their representation. First Nations filmmakers have undertaken dramas, crime films, comedies, shorts, documentaries, and animation, reaching mainstream audiences and Native communities while working to recuperate tribal languages, spirituality, and community. What we are in fact witnessing is a “national” cinema in formation. Financed variously by tribal communities and non-Native sources, these films have been guided by Indian eyes, i.e. directed by First Nations. We also see the beginning development of a Film Nations film aesthetic: different ways of perceiving space and time, stories that are circular rather than linear, landscapes which are both real and allegorical. This program presents works produced in Canada and the United States, representing a cross-section of tribal communities. — UCLA Film & Television Archive
Presented in association with UCLA Film & Television Archive. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Series curators: Jan-Christopher Horak, Dawn Jackson (Saginaw Chippewa), Shannon Kelley, Paul Malcolm, and Valerie Red-Horse Mohl (Cherokee). Associate curator: Nina Rao.
Program notes credited to UCLA are adapted from the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Through Indian Eyes: Native American Cinema catalogue.
The Cinematheque acknowledges that Vancouver is located on the unceded land of the Coast Salish peoples, including the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.