American Indian Museum Showcases ‘First Features’

Posted May 17, 2005 at 5:17pm

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian is teaming up with the Museum of Modern Art and New York University’s Center for Media, Culture and History to bring “First Nations/First Features,” a film festival spotlighting indigenous filmmakers. The films include feature films, short fiction films and documentaries.

Screenings in Washington run today through Sunday and feature films and directors from Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Fiji, Finland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Russia and the United States. The directors will participate in public discussions introducing their films.

The D.C. screenings will take place at the Embassy of Canada, the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art, among other venues.

The featured films are firsts for their directors and the communities they come from. The title “First Nations/First Features” refers to “storytelling that reflects indigenous cultural worlds, histories, aesthetics and political concerns, building on a longer history of indigenous media production — video, satellite, television, and radio,” according to the organizers’ Web site.

“There are more Native filmmakers working today than ever before,” said W. Richard West of the Southern Cheyenne, director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “With these three institutions working together, this showcase will give indigenous filmmakers further impetus to continue their important work, strengthening the Native voice throughout the world.”

Among the featured films are “Smoke Signals” (United States), “Pathfinder” (Norway), “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner” (Canada), “Te Rua” (New Zealand), “A Bride of the Seventh Heaven” (Siberia), “Itam Hakim, Hopiit” (United States), “Powerful Mountain” (Mexico), “Radiance” (Australia), and “Loving Each Other in the Shadows” (Bolivia).

The films will look at the varying facets of native people in their contemporary lives, said Elizabeth Weatherford, head of the Film and Video Center at the National Museum of the American Indian.

“The uniting thread is the strong tradition of Native storytelling that turns community and tribal experiences into memorable films with universal meanings,” Weatherford said in a statement.

For more information, visit https://www.first nationsfirstfeatures.org.

— Megan King