DC Environmental Film Festival

Indigenous Storytellers: Reclaiming the Narrative

Expired March 28, 2022 3:45 AM
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Featuring Roni Jo Draper, Ph.D. (Producer, Scenes from the Glittering World), Ciara Leinaala Lacy (Director, This is the Way We Rise), Justyn Ah Chong, (Director, Pili Ka Mo'o), and Colleen Thurston (Director, Drowned Land), moderated by Melissa Bisagni (Festival Director, D.C. Asian Pacific American Film Festival; Board Chair, D.C. Shorts International Film Festival)

Since the invention of cinema in the late 19th century, indigenous peoples and their land, culture, and resources have been a highly visible presence on the movie screen, romanticized and villainized in equal measure. Yet, these perennial images have almost always been shaped by the imagination of outsiders, culminating in a vast cinematic archive of harmful stereotypes and cultural misrepresentations. In recent years, the tides have finally begun to turn, and questions around representation in film, and all kinds of media for that matter, are reaching a fever pitch: who is telling the story, and what is their relationship to the community that they are representing, indigenous or otherwise? Extractive storytelling practices are no longer going unchallenged, while at the same time indigenous filmmakers are producing more work than ever before, presenting audiences with long-overdue perspectives and voices, and serving as agents of their own personal stories, or of broader indigenous communities. This panel will introduce a few of these remarkable visionary filmmakers whose work is being presented at this year’s festival and will explore how Indigenous storytelling is reclaiming the narrative.

Roni Jo Draper, Ph.D. (Yurok) produced the film Scenes from the Glittering World, about the in-and-out-of-school lives of three young people attending a remote high school on the Navajo Nation. She is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education in the David O. McKay School of Education at Brigham Young University. Full bio here.

Ciara Lacy is a kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) filmmaker whose work features characters fighting immense odds to challenge the creative and political status quo. Full bio here.

Justyn Ah Chong (Kānaka Maoli) is an award-winning Native Hawaiian filmmaker from Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi. Full bio here.

Colleen Thurston is the director of the film Drowned Land. Full bio here.

Melissa Bisagni (Moderator) is a film curator, consultant and festival programmer specializing in Indigenous and Asian American film. She is currently the Festival Director for the DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival. Full bio here.

  • Year
  • Runtime
    50 minutes
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director