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Vision Maker Media announces funding for six films.

Vision Maker Media Announces Six Films Awarded Funding

Vincent Schilling

Vision Maker Media (VMM) has announced financial support for six new projects for production by and about Native Americans.

With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Vision Maker Media's Public Media Content Fund awards support to projects with a Native American theme and significant Native involvement.

Since 1990, filmmakers have been invited to submit proposals in various stages of their film--from research and development, to production, post-production/completion and outreach. All proposals are reviewed by a group of media professionals, filmmakers, educators and executives from Indigenous organizations.

"The goal of the Public Media Content Fund is to increase the diversity of voices available to PBS viewers," said Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux), executive director of Vision Maker Media.

The final slate of documentaries funded this year represents Native voices and stories from across the United States, including Alaska, California, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and Washington, some documentaries will cover stories coast-to-coast. In this funding cycle, 66 percent of the filmmakers are women, 33 percent are male; 66 percent are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.

Funding was awarded as 75 percent production, 19 percent post-production and completion and 6 percent new media.

The projects are:


Catharine Axley

Production | $100,000

ATTLA tells the gripping story of George Attla, an Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with just one good leg - childhood tuberculosis left him with a lame leg - and a determined mindset, became a legendary sports hero among both western and Native communities across the country.

Kendra (Working Title)

Brooke Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish)

Production | $100,000

What does blood have to do with identity? Kendra Mylnechuk, an adult Native adoptee born in 1980 at the cusp of the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act, is on a journey to reconnect with her birth family and discover her Lummi heritage.

The Blackfeet Flood

Ben Shors, Lailani Upham (Blackfeet/Sisseton Wahpeton/Gros Ventre)

Production | $73,484

More than a half-century after the worst disaster in Montana history, two Blackfeet families struggle to come to terms with the 1964 flood. While one family held on to their rural lifestyle, the flood scattered the other family across the U.S.

Words From A Bear: The Enigmatic Life of Author N. Scott Momaday

Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa)

Production | $115,000

Words From A Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer-Prize-winning author N. Scott Momaday. The biography delves into the psyche, ancestry and writings of one of Native America's most celebrated authors of poetry and prose.

Keep Talking

Karen Weinberg, Kartemquin Films

Post-Production | $100,000

Kodiak Alutiiq Elders of Alaska's Gulf Coast are victims of systematic assimilation and abuse, first by Russian occupation, then by the United States government. Now with less than 50 fluent Native speakers of Kodiak Alutiiq remaining, three young Alutiiq women battle the resulting historical trauma and discover that saving their language is truly a matter of life and death.

In the Beginning was Water and Sky

Mackenzie Gruer (Tyendinaga Mohawk), Ryan Ward (Métis)

New Media | $30,000

In the Beginning was Water and Sky is a short-form New Media project that tells two parallel stories about a Chippewa boy who runs away from Indian Boarding School in the 1950s and a Chippewa girl who runs away from her village in the 1700s.


Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter -@VinceSchilling

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