Distinctive voices: The Pueblo Film Festival will highlight Native American film

A scene from the documentary “Young Ancestors.”
A scene from the documentary “Young Ancestors.”

There’s a first time for everything.

And for the inaugural Pueblo Film Festival, organizers are packing a punch.

“There’s never really been a film festival that focuses on the Pueblo filmmakers or films,” says Barbara Witemeyer, co-chair of the film committee at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center.

The event debuts Saturday, Nov. 22, and Sunday, Nov. 23, at the cultural center. The event, which also is a celebration of Native American Heritage Month, will include screenings of feature films, shorts and documentaries, plus workshops and lectures.

“This festival is important because it celebrates the accomplishments of Pueblo filmmakers, showcasing their creative talent, technical skills and professional ability, proving that they can be significant contributors and a distinctive voice in New Mexico’s growing film industry,” says James Lujan, award-winning filmmaker and chair of the Cinematic Arts and Technology program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

Witemeyer says Lujan’s work will be screened along with work from Pueblo filmmakers Jonathan Sims of Acoma Pueblo, Arthur Cruz of Ohkay Owingeh and Michael Bird of Kewa Pueblo.

She says the feature film “She Sings to the Stars” stars Jemez Pueblo elder Fannie Loretto, who was nominated for best actress by the American Indian Motion Picture Awards for her performance.

“There will also be some panels devoted to filmmaking on Saturday,” she says. “Then on Sunday, the panel will be on film careers.”

Participating in the panels will be Lujan, Loretto, Beverly Singer and Ann Lerner.

Other films include “Young Ancestors,” which follows Pueblo teens learning their native Tewa language, “Canes of Power” about the canes given to Pueblo Nations by Abraham Lincoln as a symbol of sovereignty, and “Dancing from the Heart” about a family of traditional Tewa Pueblo dancers.

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