An image from 'Undead Faerie Goes Great with IPA,' this year's winning experimental short film.

Class X Winning Films Screen in Santa Fe at Native Cinema Showcase

The 15th Annual Native Cinema Showcase is underway in Santa Fe, where much of the American Indian art world is gathering together for this weekend’s famous art markets. The Showcase is a joint presentation of the Southwest Association For Indian Arts (SWAIA), organizing group behind the Santa Fe Indian Market, and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s (NMAI). August 17-23, at Santa Fe Indian Market. The Showcase hosts free screenings at the New Mexico History Museum and on Saturday night at the Santa Fe Railyard Park. The Showcase is a mixture of familiar works and new ones, feature-length movies and the shortest of shorts, with many of Indian Country’s best-known talents — including Chris Eyre, Steven Paul Judd, and Irene Bedard — represented. Many of the films’ writers, producers and actors will be in attendance for Q&A sessions after the screenings. The proceedings kicked off on Monday with a 7 PM screening of the 2001 Canadian film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.

As in years past, the Native Cinema Showcase also screens selections from the Santa Fe Indian Market’s “Class X: Moving Images” category. They are represented in various categories, including Animated Short, Documentary Short, Experimental Short, Narrative Short, Youth Shorts Feature, and Music Video. All winning Class X films were shown on Tuesday, August 18, with a follow-up panel by the filmmakers; all winning Class X shorts will again be screened on Sunday, August 23, with another follow-up panel by the filmmakers. A complete listing of events, dates, and times can be found at:

The winning submissions in the Class X category are:

Documentary Short Winner: “Native Evolution” by Kyle Bell (Thlopthlocco Tribal Town).

Since 2008, Native American street artist Steven Grounds has been painting his mind of creativity on walls of buildings and anything else he can get his hands on. Motivated from the struggle and hardships of his life, Steven finds the strength to persevere straight from the blood that runs through him that is his Native American ancestry.

Animated Short Winner: “How the Bear Got a Short Tail” by Elizabeth Day (Leech Lake Ojibwe). Directed by Elizabeth Day, written by Anna Gibbs, produced by Heid E. Erdich, animated by Jonathan Thunder, and narrated by elder Anna Gibbs entirely in Anishinaabemowin, the language of the Ojibwe people. It tells a story about gifts of the Creator and gives a lesson in humility. We meet Makwa, the bear, who brags up his gorgeous tail and enrages bushy-tailed Fox. Many woodland creatures appear as they were before the Creator gave them their gifts, such as Skunk whose stripes are yet to appear. Seasons, the heavens, and the creatures of the lake and woods figure prominently in this story for those learning the Anishinaabe language. 

Experimental Short Winner: “Undead Faerie Goes Great with IPA” by Jonathan Thunder (Chippewa/Ojibwe). Co-Directed by Jonathan Thunder and Heid. E Erdich, written by Heid E. Erdich. Animated by Jonathan Thunder, featuring music by Trevino Brings Plenty.

The film follows chronicles daydreams beyond an overheard comment about Goth fashion to find an answer to the burning question of why we are obsessed with zombies. In this short experimental film, images and text work together as references to technology, extraction industries on indigenous lands, gender, and blood play out in a surreal style. Movements center on a constantly transforming portrait of the poet, Heid E Erdich, who speaks the poem. Erdich and Thunder present an increasingly strange and fantastical palate of textures and figures, which gives a sly and dark tone to what is, at its heart, a harrowing eco-poetic utterance.

Feature Winner: A Thousand Voices by Matthew Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh). The film takes its title from the proverb, “it takes a thousand voices to tell a single story.” This is a documentary that builds from a thousand voices of the past to present one universal story of NM Native American women. From the creation stories of the beginning of time, through the invasions of Spain, Mexico, and the US, the power of Native American women remains strong and grounded and their story continues to the present day through their enduring courage and wisdom.

Music Video Winner: “True Pride Reality” by Echota Cheyenne Killsnight (Northern Cheyenne/Keetoowah).

TPR is a music video by hip hop MC Melodic Soul featuring “In the Woods,” The video portrays and explains Native American struggles and contemporary issues involving assimilation. TPR was shot in Big Pine, California and captures the beautiful scenery of the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountain Range. The song has hard-hitting lyrics and gives a strong voice to young Native Americans Echota Cheyenne Killsnight.

Narrative Short Winner: “Isabelle’s Garden” by Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa). Isabelle’s Garden is an uplifting story of a community coming together in reciprocity, through the hopes and dreams of a young Choctaw girl and her garden. A Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation short film challenge to end world poverty and hunger winner.

All four of the winning Youth Shorts were produced at the Native Youth Film Camp held at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. For more on that event, see “Native Youth Learn Movie Making From Pros in Santa Fe”

Here are the Youth Shorts winners:

First Place: “A Work of Art” by Casey Hendren (Navajo). Based on the exhibit, “Indian Country,” of David Bradley’s artwork at the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture, a young girl is touring the exhibit and the paintings come to life with some of David Bradley’s favorite characters. The film even has a cameo appearance from David Bradley himself. David Bradley is suffering from ALS and the young filmmaker wanted to make a tribute to his immortality.

Second Place (Tie): “Relocated Memories” by Desiree Morsea-Foley (Dine’). A girl realizes that a bracelet that she is wearing ties back to a family that was relocated from the reservation to an urban setting. Filmed in the beautiful Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) Hogan.

Second Place (Tie): “A Modern Indian” by Forrest Goodluck (Mandan/ Hidatsa/ Tsimshian). A fictitious and comical PBS pilot on the quest for the modern Indian done from the non-Native perspective. Tom Tomerson the correspondent tries to interview Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) attendees with not much luck.  

Third Place: “The Lost Beat” by Philip C. Bread (Comanche/Kiowa). This is an experimental film that starts in the arroyo behind Museum Hill, as a Native hiker hears a beat, he begins to follow the drum and it leads him to Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC). As the hiker gets closer to the MIAC, he morphs into traditional Native clothing, confirming his cultural identity.


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Class X Winning Films Screen in Santa Fe at Native Cinema Showcase