Flatwater Film Festival

“There are a couple of million Native Americans in the United States today, and we barely make a blip on the radar screen,” said Shirley K. Sneve, director of radio and television for Native American Public Telecommunications. “People tend to know about us through gaming, but there’s a lot more to our people than gaming.”

The NAPT and the Mary Reipma Ross Media Arts Center hope to expose the public to the many different sides of Native American life when they present The Flatwater Native American Film Festival, Aug. 6-18 in Lincoln. Of the 15 films on the schedule, one will be a world premiere and five will be regional premieres.

“This is the first time that Indian Country Diaries, A Seat at the Drum will be seen in front of an audience,” Sneve said. “It will start the festival off on Aug. 6. We’re also bringing in four filmmakers to discuss their work.” Producer-director Carol Cornsilk, a Lincoln resident, will discuss her film Indian Country Diaries, following the 7 p.m. screening and again on Thursday, Aug. 11 after the 9:30 p.m. screening.

Cherokee filmmaker Heather Rae, who has spent the better part of the last 13 years making the documentary Trudell, will be in Lincoln for a discussion on Saturday, Aug. 13. An Omaha-born poet and activist, Trudell was involved in the Alcatraz and Wounded Knee incidents in the 1970s. Today, he continues to speak out for Native rights, tribal sovereignty, and the importance of living in balance with the Earth. Trudell has been screened at a number of major film festivals, including Sundance, Tribeca, Cannes and Munich. “It’s a very poignant chronology,” Sneve said. “It’s really moving and beautifully shot.”

Also coming to Lincoln are Oklahoma-based filmmakers Dan Bigbee and Lily Shangreaux, whose historic documentary The Great American Footrace will be shown. Bigbee and Shangreaux will be at the Ross on Friday, August 12. The Great American Footrace tells the little known story of one of the wildest promotion schemes in our history and of the small-town Cherokee farm boy, Andy Payne, who took home the gold in a grueling 3,422-mile footrace designed to bring attention to the newly constructed Route 66 highway.

“I’ve taught Native American history, and there are some stories that we’re showing that I had no idea about,” Sneve said. “I didn’t know that like the Japanese, Native Americans were also sent to internment camps during World War II.” That’s the story that is told in Aleut Story. This 90-minute historical documentary shows how the Aleuts of Alaska, who were American citizens, were forcibly removed from their Aleutian Island homes.

A few of the other films that will be included in the festival are Chris Eyre’s A Thousand Roads, which follows the lives of four contemporary Native Americans as they confront the crises that arise in a single day; and Homeland – Four Portraits of Native Action, which demonstrates how native activists fight to protect Indian lands, preserve their sovereignty, and ensure their peoples cultural survival.

Danny Lee Ladely, director of the Mary Riepma Ross, said that this film festival evolved out of a long-time relationship that he’s had with NAPT director Frank Blythe. “I’ve always been impressed with their work,” Ladely said. “We both wanted to make people more aware of what they are doing there, and what gave us the opportunity was that next month the Native American Journalists Association is having its annual convention in Lincoln. This coincides with that.”

“We’ve done a lot of partnerships with Danny and we appreciate his commitment to independent film,” Sneve said. “We’ve been around for 28 years. We’re here because our our relationship with public TV, but we’re also a national service organization for tribal people.The Flatwater Film Festival is our way of saying thank you to the Lincoln tribal community.”

NAPT supports the creation, promotion and distribution of Native public media. It does this in part by producing and developing educational telecommunication programs for all media including public television and public radio. It is located at1800 N. 33rd St. in Lincoln.

For a complete schedule and ticket information, contact the Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center at (402) 472-5353 or go to www.theross.org.

Funding for the festival comes from the Nebraska Arts Council and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and it is co-sponsored by the Native Voice Newspaper and the Lincoln Journal Star , a Lee Enterprises Publication. The Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency, has supported the programs of this organization through its matching grants program funded by the Nebraska Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

Author: Julien R. Fielding

Julien R. Fielding has been reviewing films, and covering the entertainment industry, for more than a decade. Her favorite genres are sci-fi, horror, action, and anime. She authored the book, Discovering World Religions at 24 Frames Per Second.

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