Indigenous Women Storytellers Command SIFF’s Weekend Spotlight

by Sarah Corn

Local, national, and international Indigenous women filmmakers and community members will gather at the Seattle International Film Festival this weekend to hone skills, network, and screen their stories.

Festivities begin with a free screening of Dawnland: A documentary about cultural survival and stolen children at the Seattle Central Library Saturday, May 26, at 1:30 p.m (reception at 1 p.m.). Dawnland tells a frank, graphic story of the Wabanaki people of Maine and a historic truth and reconciliation commission.

After the film, Indigenous Media Activist and Longhouse Media co-founder Tracy Rector M.Ed will moderate a discussion panel featuring Dawnland editor Kristen Salerno and on-screen storyteller Dawn Neptune Adams, Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation commissioner Sandy White Hawk, and Upstander Project learning director Mishy Lesser.

Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. (and again Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.), SIFF Cinema Uptown will show Warrior Women, about legendary Lakota activist Madonna Thunder Hawk’s lifetime struggle against racial and gender discrimination in protests from Wounded Knee to Standing Rock.  

Warrior Women directors Christina King and Beth Castle, along with producer Anna Marie Pitman and the film’s lead subjects are scheduled to attend both days, according to SIFF’s event page.

But the highlight of the weekend, said Festival Media Specialist Mark Siano, is the short film collection Through Her Indigenous Eyes, showing at 3 p.m. at SIFF Cinema Uptown. Especially for those hoping to swap tales with other professionals.

“I think that will be a lot of fun,” Siano said. “When they do collections of shorts, there’s a lot of filmmakers there, there’s a lot of cast there. You know, it’s got a little bit of a party atmosphere.”

This year’s collection includes eight stories told by Indigenous women directors from Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and the United States.

SIFF’s Indigenous programming centers around the annual Memorial Day Weekend 4th World Indigenous Media Lab. The Indigenous Media Lab brings together a cohort of emerging and mid-career Native filmmakers to participate in trainings, network with peers, and highlight First Peoples’ voices in the multimedia landscape.

Created in partnership with Tracy Rector and Longhouse Media, the program’s 2018 cohort of 4th World Fellows is comprised entirely of Native women, representing tribes all over North America.

“Indigenous media adds a new voice to the debate on Native, First Nations, and Indigenous issues,” said Rector in a media statement. “By sharing the perspectives of an all female slate of directors, we are emphasizing the leadership roles that Indigenous women have held since time immemorial.”  

Several more feature-length Indigenous Media films will screen throughout the weekend:

Sarah Corn is a Rainier Beach resident

Featured image courtesy of Warrior Women

One thought on “Indigenous Women Storytellers Command SIFF’s Weekend Spotlight”

  1. “This year’s collection includes eight stories told by Indigenous women directors from Canada, Finland, New Zealand, and the United States.”

    This is an important component imo. I had a Native homegirl who didn’t consider Chicano and south of the border breth/sistren as Natives. I told her my opinion was that we are all tribes and were considered indigenous until white people said the Rio Grande was a border that separated “natives” and others…… she thought about it and agreed.

    Then she hepped me to the fact that Hawaii is a state and Samoa (at least American Samoa) is a territory and that they are Natives who had their own tribes, chiefs and etc. I thought about it and agreed with her. Nice to see Maori representation from NZ in the indigenous mix at SIFF.

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