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The Student News Site of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

The Online Beacon

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Images Cinema Showcases Diverse Films at Indigenous Peoples Film Festival


From Friday, November 10th to Sunday, November 12th, Images Cinema in Williamstown, Massachusetts hosted the first Indigenous Peoples Film Festival in collaboration with SMC Cultural Affairs and the Students of the Williams College course HIST 276. This three-day film festival showcased five movies that highlight the stories of indigenous peoples; the films shown were Frybread Face and Me, directed by Billy Luther, Beans, directed by Tracey Deer, Thunderheart, directed by Michael Apted, Lakota Nation vs. United States, directed by Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli, and Fancy Dance, directed by Erica Tremblay. The festival began with an opening ceremony on the evening of Friday, November 10th, which was catered by Indigenous Deliciousness.

On the inspiration for the Indigenous Peoples Film Festival, Executive Director of Images Cinema, Dan Hudson, states that the lack of representation for Native Americans in The Berkshires is relevant to the conversation. Hudson hails from the west coast of the United States, specifically the Seattle, Washington area, and states that, “the local tribes that [he was] used to on the west coast, which were really kind of visible and local, and still on some of their tribal homelands,” was something he missed from his time in Washington. Hudson specifically notes that Indigenous representation in Berkshire County is much less prevalent than that of the American West. 

Hudson explains that the first step in the creation of the Indigenous People’s Film Festival was reaching out to representatives from, “the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, and there was some interest in something at some point…and [Hudson] just thought it would be kinda great to do something timed on either Indigenous Peoples Day or [during] Native American Heritage Month.” 

“One of the things that kind of really made it all work out,” Hudson explains, “is that there was a history class at Williams College that focused on the Stockbridge-Munsee, and some of the students that were in that class were collaborating and communicating with some of the same tribal members [Images Cinema] reached out to.” Hudson classifies the event as a, “unique, three-way collaboration,” created by Images Cinema, the Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, and the Williams College’s history class.

Regarding the films shown at the event, Hudson highlights the contribution from, “Monique Tyndall, their main tribal representative, [and] the Director of Cultural Affairs for the [Stockbridge-Munsee] tribe, [who they] discussed titles [with] and thought about the types of films and stories that [they] wanted to center in the festival for this year.” When deciding upon the selected films, Hudson asked, “how can we represent the Stockbridge-Munsee on screen as much as possible?” Hudson highlights that the tribe is one that has, “not been as represented in film and media as some other tribes.” 

“There were two short documentaries,” states Hudson, “that they had collaborated [on] with PBS Wisconsin, to produce, [as] Wisconsin is where their reservation is, and [Images Cinema] will be showcasing some of those short films throughout the weekend in front of some of the feature films that will be playing.” Hudson further explains the event’s feature films, stating that, “one of the feature films [they] selected is kind of a retrospective tribute to Sheila Tousey, who is an enrolled tribal member of the Stockbridge-Munsee, and was in a lot of tv and movies in the ‘90s and 2000s, so [they’re] showing one of her films as well.” The film Tousey stars in is titled Thunderheart (1992), and follows the story of an FBI agent, Ray Levoi (Val Kilmer), who visits a Native American reservation to investigate a homicide. Tousey portrays Maggie Eagle Bear, an indigenous schoolteacher who engages in political activism. 

As someone, “who loves movies, and loves as many different types of movies, and as many different types of stories,” Hudson loves the, “wave of representation that we’re experiencing right now.” “There’s a lot of great indigenous storytellers,” Hudson stresses, “that are telling stories from their own perspectives, so there’s been a lot of groups that have been traditionally underrepresented that are getting the opportunity to make their own movies and get a little bit more visibility and financing and stuff.”

Hudson continues, explaining that, “we’re now at a point where a lot of these filmmakers are making a lot of great work,” contributing to a festival lineup that is, “really excellent, and [the films] tell different types of stories; there’s some documentaries, there’s a couple different coming-of-age films, and there’s some LGBTQ stories and characters and stuff.” In summary, the festival’s lineup is a, “really great diversity of stories that really highlights that indigenous storytellers are getting more opportunities and resources to make really excellent films.” Hudson hopes that, “people walk away with different stories and perspectives on what it’s like to be Native American or First-Nation Canadian today.”

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Angelina Clark, Web Editor

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