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Native stories: Grant to help SF Independent Film Festival support Indigenous creativity

A panel with Tantoo Cardinal, Wes Studi and Chris Eyre is an example of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival’s push to recognize Indigenous filmmakers. (Courtesy of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival)

It’s been the goal of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival to present some of the best stories through film.

With the pandemic affecting its outreach, the festival has gotten help from the Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Native American Advised Fund.

The Native American Advised Fund will support Indigenous filmmakers’ cinematic creativity and promote Native American stories and experiences through film. It recently awarded the Santa Fe Film Institute the $5,500 grant.

The institute’s main project is the SFIFF.

The festival has had a pivotal role in showcasing Native American films and has honored Indigenous filmmakers like Tantoo Cardinal, Wes Studi, Razelle Benally, and Chris Eyre.

Jacques Paisner, SFIFF artistic director, says each year, the festival presents a cutting-edge Indigenous Film Program presented by Institute of American Indian Arts.

This program includes feature films, short films, and IAIA student shorts, highlighting Indigenous tribes from around the world and reflecting issues affecting Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples.

Paisner says the grant gives the festival the chance to expand Indigenous programming.

“It’s a chance to reach out to this next generation of up-and-coming local fimmakers,” Paisner says. “We also can work on developing our partnerships more with local schools and the Institute of American Indian Arts.”

The Native American Advised Fund was established in 1993 with a gift from the late sculptor and humanitarian, Allan Houser (Chiricahua Fort Sill Apache).

“We gratefully thank Santa Fe Community Foundation’s Native American Advised Fund. With this grant, SFIFF will encourage endeavors in Native American film production, development, and assistance in finding an audience and securing Native American storytelling for future generations,” says Gary Farmer (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois), SFIFF Advisory Board chair.

Paisner says logistics for the festival have changed due to the pandemic, with most of the programming going online.

“We had discussions with the board about how to give a chance for students to see the pictures,” Paisner says. “They were offered tickets and passes to the last festival in an effort to keep the momentum growing with the festival.”

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