2021 Sundance Institute Indigenous Short Film Tour [Online]
The 2021 Sundance Institute Indigenous Short Film Tour is an 85-minute virtual program of seven short films directed by Indigenous filmmakers selected from recent editions of the Sundance Film Festival. Presented in partnership with Sundance Institute’s friends at museums, Native cultural centers, and arthouse cinemas, this exciting new offering curated by the Institute’s Indigenous Program will feature fiction, documentary, animation, and experimental works from around the world, giving new audiences a taste of what Indigenous filmmakers have to offer.
The Festival’s Short Film Program has long been established as a place to discover talented Indigenous directors, such as past alumni Taika Waititi, Blackhorse Lowe, Sterlin Harjo, Sky Hopinka, Caroline Monnet, and Shaandiin Tome.
Short Film Program:
The Fourfold – by Alisi Telengut
An exploration of indigenous worldview and wisdom from Mongolia and Siberia. With hand-crafted imagery, it is a testament of reclaiming animism for planetary health and non-human materialities.
Alisi Telengut is a Canadian artist of Mongolian origin. Alisi creates animation frame by frame under the camera, with painting as the medium, to generate movement and explore hand-made and painterly visuals for her films. Her works received multiple international awards and nominations, including the Best Short Film Award at Stockholm Film Festival (Sweden) and the Best Animated Film at Mammoth Lakes Film Festival (USA). They have been exhibited internationally at galleries and festivals, such as at Sundance (USA), Slamdance (USA), and the Canadian Embassy in Paris (France). They have not only been presented as animation with the unique visual style, but have also contributed to ethnographic and ethnocultural research. Her recent work has been added to the permanent collection of Art Science Exhibits Berlin (Germany) that dedicates to positive action for Earth’s recovery.
Lichen – by Lisa Jackson
This stunning otherworldly short film takes a deep dive into lichen, a species that confounds scientists to this day. Shot in macro 3D, Lichen offers us a look at this remarkable life form and asks what we might learn from it. Ancient and diverse, both an individual and a community, lichens can live in the most extreme environments, including outer space. This meditative film bridges science and philosophy, and the words of lichenologist Trevor Goward illuminate the terrain in poetic and thought-provoking ways.
Lisa Jackson’s award-winning work has screened at SXSW, Berlinale, Hotdocs, Tribeca, BFI London, Melbourne Museum and the Art Gallery of Ontario, and broadcast widely. She’s made works ranging from current affairs to IMAX, animation to VR, and even a residential school musical. Her short Lichen screened at Sundance in 2020 and Indictment: The Crimes of Shelly Chartier is one of the top watched documentaries on CBC, and won the 2017 imagineNATIVE Best Doc award. Her Webby-nominated VR Biidaaban: First Light premiered at Tribeca Storyscapes in 2018, exhibited internationally to 25,000+ people, and won a Canadian Screen Award (Canada’s Oscar), the second time she’s received this honour. Transmissions, a 6000 square foot immersive multimedia installation and sister project to Biidaaban, premiered in Vancouver in 2019 and was featured on the cover of The Georgia Straight. Playback Magazine named Lisa one of Ten to Watch and she’s an alumna of the TIFF Talent and Writers Labs, Canadian Film Centre’s Directors Lab, IDFA Summer School, CFC/NFB/Ford Foundation’s Open Immersion VR Lab, and was a Fellow at the MIT Open Doc Lab’s VR Conference. She has an MFA from York University and is Anishinaabe from the Aamjiwnaang First Nation. She is a well-known advocate for Indigenous screen sovereignty, and in 2020, she launched her company Door Number 3 Productions (doornumber3.ca).
Now is the Time – by Christopher Auchter
This is the Way We Rise – by Ciara Lacy
This is the Way We Rise is an exploration into the creative process, following Native Hawaiian slam poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio as she answers her calling to protect sacred sites atop Maunakea, Hawai`i, which reinvigorates her art.
Ciara Lacy is a kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) filmmaker, whose interest lies in crafting films that use strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo. Her work has shown at festivals around the world including Sundance and Berlinale as well as on Netflix, PBS, ABC, Al Jazeera, and the Criterion Collection. In the digital space, she has created content for the Guardian and the Atlantic Online. She was the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow as well as part of the inaugural class of NATIVe Fellows at the European Film Market. Ciara holds a BA in Psychology from Yale University and has given talks at academic institutions across the U.S. She continues to work on documentary content for broadcast and digital while also expanding her intimate style of filmmaking into the branded content and commercial spaces.
Little Chief – by Erica Tremblay
It’s just another typical day at a rural elementary school on a reservation in Oklahoma. Little Chief, the school’s mascot, appears faded on the walls as a proud symbol of a rich and complicated history. It’s a world that is stacked against them, but Sharon shows up each day to guide her 5th grade students through it. Bear is having a particularly hard time, enduring challenges both at home and in the classroom. He is desperate to escape it all, and Sharon is left chasing a little boy who is running to nowhere.
Erica Tremblay is an award-winning writer and director from the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Her short film Little Chief premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was included on IndieWire‘s top 10 must-see short films at the fest. Tremblay was a 2018 Sundance Native Film Lab Fellow and her feature script Fancy Dance was chosen for the 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab. Fancy Dance also made the inaugural Indigenous Black List and was chosen as the recipient of the 2021 Walter Bernstein Fellowship. She was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American. Tremblay lives on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York where she is studying her Indigenous language.
Fainting Spells – by Sky Hopinka
Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is an imagined myth for the Xąwįska, or the Indian Pipe Plant – used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted.
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, CA, Portland, OR, and Milwaukee, WI. In Portland he studied and taught chinu wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal, documentary, and non-fictional forms of media. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and teaches at Bard College. His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images, Wavelengths, Ann Arbor Film Festival, Sundance, and Projections. His work was a part of the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial and the 2017 Whitney Biennial and the 2018 FRONT Triennial. He was a guest curator at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and was a part of Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. He was awarded jury prizes at the Onion City Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, the New Cinema Award at the Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival and the Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship for Individual Artists in the Emerging artist category for 2018. He was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2018-2019 and Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019, and is a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow.