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Epic feature film project focuses on Native American filmmakers

From the onset of the film industry, Native Americans have been portrayed in a very stereotypical way. The huge impact that story and visual effects have on society has created a misunderstanding in America as to who Native Americans are, how they believe and the incredible contributions they have made to our world. Casting non-Native actors as Natives is bad enough, but until recently, Native Americans have been depicted as uncivilized savages cruelly placed against the heroic, white settler. Today, many filmmakers have taken a more authentic and historic approach, as in the case of a new epic feature film, Windcatcher: The Story of Sacajawea.

Native American dancers at live performance
Jane Fitzpatrick

"I am so impressed with this production and its dedication to lifting up and honoring the proud heritage that flows through the blood of Native people. They have put action to their words by selecting authentic Native Americans to be apart of the production team in key positions, actors and crew. The opportunities are astounding for Native moviemakers through this film about our grandmother, Sacajawea," says Chief, Whispering Raven, producer and actor in the film.

With Sacajawea as the focal point of this feature film, women of Native cultures are honored. Not only does the film show Native Americans as they should be presented, it also pays close attention to the accuracy of history for the time period. It has been endorsed by Native Americans and Lewis & Clark historians.

"One of the motivations of this project is the commitment to get it right. To bring to life Native culture and characters, authentic words and actions that depict the Indigenous people of that time period in the most believable and accurate way. And, more importantly, to beautifully present the person of Sacajawea so we deeply connect to who she was, how she lived, and what she felt — a human being we all will want to love and remember," says producer, Lainie S. Quirk, ABQ Global Entertainment.

Windcatcher Entertainment and ABQ Global Entertainment are producing this film. They are companies that believe in presenting all people in the proper light. Other organizations dedicated to Native Americans include the Sundance Institute, that has, since its inception, supported Indigenous artists.

"The Native Program (at Sundance Institite) has built and sustained an Indigenous film circle. The circle of our work begins by scouting for and identifying Native American and Indigenous artists, bringing them through the mechanisms of support at Sundance Institute to get their work made and shown, then bringing the filmmakers and their work back to native lands...," from the Sundance website:

Another group is the American Indian Film Festival. "Since1975, AIFI has recognized the opportunity and responsibility to empower American Indian media artists by placing the tools of technology in their hands and to introduce their works into the fabric of Indian community life, mainstream media and international audiences," says Michael Smith, AIFI President.

Watch for the 39th Annual American Indian Film Festival® • November 1 - 9, 2014 • San Francisco

Giving opportunities to Native filmmakers and artists, and accurately portraying them in film has an impact on how we see each other in this diverse and eclectic country. There is power in our words and visual presentations that can, when done honestly and with respect for all people, change the world in which we live.

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