Anthology Film Archives


January 14 – January 21

Native Americans first appeared on film in 1895 at the dawn of the medium but were totally excluded from any meaningful role in the production of their own cinematic images for virtually the entire century to follow. And they continue to be marginalized in the entertainment industry today. Over the last 25 years, however, a renaissance in independent Native American filmmaking has occurred. This phenomenon, though, is not sui generis. Indeed, since the 1970s, Native communities, after centuries-old legacies of genocide, displacement, forced assimilation, poverty, alcoholism, and demeaning media images, have worked incrementally to take command of their destinies and their representation. Native American filmmakers have undertaken dramas, crime films, comedies, shorts, documentaries, and animation, reaching mainstream audiences and Native communities while working to recuperate tribal languages, spirituality, and community. What we are in fact witnessing is a “national” cinema in formation. Financed variously by tribal communities and non-Native sources, these films have been guided by Indian eyes, i.e. directed by Native Americans. We also see a Native American film aesthetic beginning to take shape: different ways of perceiving space and time, stories that are circular rather than linear, landscapes that are both real and allegorical. This survey, organized by the UCLA Film & Television Archive, showcases works produced in Canada and the United States, representing a cross-section of tribal communities, whether Navajo or Sioux, Seminole or Mohawk, Cree or Inuit.

Presented in association with UCLA Film & Television Archive. This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Series curators: Jan-Christopher Horak, Dawn Jackson (Saginaw Chippewa), Shannon Kelley, Paul Malcolm, and Valerie Red-Horse Mohl (Cherokee). Associate curator: Nina Rao.

All film descriptions courtesy of UCLA Film & Television Archive.

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