If there is one thing that you must do this weekend it’s to go check out the Festival of Native Film & Culture at the Camelot Theater in Palm Springs.

This is one of the most important, relevant film festivals that the Coachella Valley has to offer.  And what I appreciate the most about is that there’s no hype, media, flashing lights, or red carpets…. just good, interesting, thought provoking, inspiring, culturally enriching and educational films.  Everything a film festival should be.

However, never mind my hype, the proof is in the pudding.  Make sure to read all the tidbits of information about each film and pick a few that interest you.

Hope to see you there…

About the Festival of Native Film & Culture:

Wednesday through Sunday
March 2-6, 2011

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum presents the tenth annual Festival of Native Film & Culture at Camelot Theatres in central Palm Springs. The Festival is one of the nation’s most highly-regarded events of its kind — featuring the best in films by, about, and starring Native Americans and other indigenous peoples. Engaging, entertaining, and enlightening feature films, documentaries, and short films from some of today’s premier Native American and indigenous filmmakers will be followed by informative Q&A sessions.

Guest programmer is Elizabeth Weatherford, founding director of the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

The outstanding lineup of screenings this year includes a wide variety of films.  They range from short films originating in Hawaii and those of hilarious comedic content with strong messages, to finely crafted documentaries that evoke new depths of appreciation for and understanding of gay/lesbian and migrant issues experienced in the Native world.

Individual tickets are $10 for adults; and $7 for Senior Adults (60+), Students, Youth (16 and under), and Military Personnel.  The All Access Pass is $60. Daily Tented Receptions at 7:00 p.m. are free to Festival ticket holders.

Tickets are on-sale now.

To purchase individual tickets and All Access Passes, call 1.888.71.TICKETS between the hours of 6:00 am and 3:00 pm or go to www.camelottickets.com.

All Access Passes purchased online will be available for pickup at Camelot Theatres Box Office during normal business hours (11:30 am to 8:00 pm daily). Tickets and All Access Passes may also be purchased in-person at Camelot Theatres Box Office.

For additional Festival information, call Claire Victor, Administrative Assistant/Programs, at 760.833.8169.

Thursday, March 3

Green Bush
(Australia, Short)

5:00 pm

An aboriginal DJ in the Australian bush realizes that his work at the country radio station is about much more than just playing music.

Director: Warwick Thornton (Kaytetye)


(Canada, Documentary)

CBQM is a tribute to the citizen-run Native radio station that operates out of Fort McPherson, a small town north of the Arctic Circle in the Canadian Northwest Territories.  Through storytelling and old-time country music, we see in CBQM a subtle portrait of the “Moccasin Telegraph.”  For nearly three decades, this simple radio station has been a beacon in the storm of life and a pillar of local identity and pride for this lively northern town of 800 souls.

Director: Dennis Allen (Gwich’in/Inuvialuit)

Rabbit-Proof Fence
(Australia, Feature Drama)

8:00 pm
Molly Craig, a young black Australian girl, leads her younger sister and cousin in a daring escape from a government camp established to train and integrate domestic workers into white society. With tenacity, determination, and ingenuity, Molly guides the girls on an epic 1,500-mile journey, one step ahead of the authorities, over Australia’s outback in search of the rabbit-proof fence that bisects the continent and will lead them home.
Director: Phillip Noyce

Friday, March 4

Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing)

(United States/Mexico, Short)

5:00 pm

Cedar Sherbert shares his poetic and personal reflection of his journey in search of the last traditional Kumeyaay singer.

Director: Cedar Sherbert (Kumeyaay)

2501 Migrants – A Journey

(Mexico, Documentary)

In 2501 Migrants, Oaxacan artist Alejandro Santiago explores questions of art and indigenous community in the context of global migration, particularly that of poor and young indigenous Mexicans who abandon their native homes in search of employment and the hope of a brighter future. After a brief self-exile in France, Alejandro returns to his village of Teococuilco, only to realize that Oaxaca has emerged as one of Mexico’s leading exporters of human labor to the United States, leaving his village a virtual ghost town. Impressed and inspired by what he experiences, Alejandro creates a monumental installation art piece consisting of 2,501 life-size sculptures as an homage to each migrant who left Teococuilco.

Director: Yoland Cruz (Chatin)

7:00 pm Tented Reception

Meshanahk (My Path)
(Canada, Short)

8:00 pm

A young man resolves questions, regrets and fears about his passage from childhood on a Cree reserve to life in the city.

Director: Kevin Lee Burton (Swampy Cree)

Two Spirits
(United States, Documentary)

Fred Martinez was a Navajo nádleehí boy (one who constantly transforms) – a male-bodied person with a feminine nature, a special gift according to his ancient Indian culture.  In an earlier time, he would have been revered.  Instead, he was murdered.Two Spirits is the tragic story of a mother’s loss of her son and an enlightening look into the largely unknown history of a time when our world wasn’t simply divided into male and female, and many Native American cultures held places of honor for people of integrated genders. Fred Martinez was one of the youngest hate-crime victims in modern history when he was brutally murdered at age sixteen.
Director: Lydia Nibley

Saturday, March 5

El Regalo de la Pachamama (Gift of the Mother World)
(Bolivia, Docu-Fiction)

5:00 pm

On the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia’s inland salt sea, young Kunturi and his father cut blocks of salt from their vast salt lake home terrain and transport them by a four-month llama caravan to mountain folk in remote areas, bartering for other products along the way. When the caravan arrives at Macha, the final destination, young Kunturi meets beautiful Ulala – his first love who may someday be his bride. Living and working close to the earth in Bolivia is a vanishing and difficult way of life, yet Pachamama emerges celebrating its richness in gifts of family and friends.

Director: Toshifumi Matsushita (Andes: Bolivia)

7:00 pm Tented Reception

(United States, Documentary)

8:00 pm

J. Carlos Peinado returns to the site of his ancestral home in the upper Missouri River basin in North Dakota where his family and hundreds of others on the 156,000-acre Fort Berthold Indian Reservation were relocated to cities as a result of a massive Federal damming project in the 1940s and 1950s.  This is a story about how the Garrison Dam project impacted lives of displaced tribal members of the Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara Nation.

Director: J. Carlos Peinado (Mandan/Hidatsa)

Sunday, March 6

Visionaries: Short Films by Native Directors

Horse You See
(United States, Short)

5:00 pm

Ross, a horse from the Navajo reservation, explains the very essence of being himself.

Director: Melissa A. Henry (Navajo)

Poi Dogs
(United States, Short)

Toa, a high school football lineman, and Anela, a tuba player on the team’s marching band, are two tough-acting local Hawaiian teenagers who make awkward attempts at expressing a budding romantic interest in each other.

Director: Joel Moffett

(United States. Short)

In this mythical tale, a Hawaiian family is torn between preserving their Native land and life and embracing new cultures and people.

Director: Ty Sanga

(Canada, Short)

Josh and his father visit their family cabin in Saskatchewan for the last time. They are leaving their traditional Cree territory, but Josh has already adopted an urban lifestyle and finds it hard to relate to his heritage.
Director: Danis Goulet (Métis)

The Rocket Boy
(United States, Short)

Calvin, a young boy who lost his father, builds a makeshift space rocket he hopes to use to find his father against the advice of his mother.

Donavan Seschillie (Navajo)

Search for the World’s Best Indian Taco
(United States, Short)

A Choctaw grandfather regales his young grandson with tall tales about his lifelong quest for true love.

Director: Steve Judd (Kiowa/Choctaw)

7:00 pm Tented Reception

Bran Nue Dae
(Australia, Feature Comedy)

8:00 pm

Willie, a goody-goody Aboriginal teenager of the mid-60s, is filled with the life of his idyllic hometown of Broome, Australia – fishing, hanging out with his buddies and his girl. Bran Nue Dae chronicles the wanderings of Willie who runs away from a Roman Catholic boarding school 3,000 miles away in Perth after being punished for an act of youthful rebellion. Willie’s journey singing and dancing with a hippy couple though the Australian outback ultimately leads him back home where he hopes to rekindle his romance with Rosie.

Director: Rachel Perkins (Arrernte/Kalkadoon)

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