The Sundance Film Institute says four Native American filmmakers will be on the Mescalero Apache reservation in Southern New Mexico this week. The visit is the first stage of development for Native writers and directors hoping to release independent films in the coming years.
Every year, the Sundance Film Institute holds a national competition to identify indigenous filmmakers for a fellowship to develop projects. This year, out of about 50 applicants, four were selected to take part in the institute. The visit to Mescalero allows fellows to workshop their projects and focus on storytelling craft.
"Basically, in the history of film, there's a whole body of work that has Native images and Native stories in it, and all these films have been made pretty much without our participation at the creative level, in terms of writing and directing," said Bird Runningwater, director of the Sundance program. "So American cinema is incomplete without a contribution from the original peoples of this land."
Runningwater said the Institute has produced a number of successful native films in previous years, including the documentary "Miss Navajo" by Navajo, Hopi and Laguna filmmaker Billy Luther, and the feature film "Boy" by Maori filmmaker Taika Waititi.