Lineups announced for 2006 Native American Film Festival

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AUTHOR: Staff Reports / Indian Country Today

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum has announced this
year’s film lineup for the Native American Film Festival, taking place March
14 – 19 at the Camelot Theatre in Palm Springs.

This highly anticipated cultural celebration’s opening night will precede
screenings throughout the week. The festival will present a varied combination
of documentaries and short films that represent a wealth of talent and a
diversity of expression that continues the tradition of previous years.

The festival begins with ”Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action,”
Roberta Grossman’s powerful nationwide examination of the contemporary threat of
environmental hazards to American Indian homelands.

March 15 will feature ”Aleut Story,” Marla Williams’ poignant account of
Aleut-Americans’ decades-long struggle for human and civil rights, from
isolated internment camps of World War II-era Southeast Alaska to Congress and the
White House. Emmy Award-winning actor Martin Sheen narrated this film.

A documentary double-bill will be featured March 16, with ”Teachings of the
Tree People: The Life of Bruce Miller,” Katie Jennings’ remarkable portrait
of the actor/artist/educator/environmentalist/historian’s complex life, his
inspiring outlook on life and his struggles to keep Native traditions alive in
the contemporary world. The evening’s second film is ”Stolen Spirits of the
Haida Gwaii,” Kevin McMahon’s multi-award-winning documentary about the
Haida people’s journey to bring home the skeletal remains of their ancestors
which were stolen from their villages a century ago.

A gala dinner on the evening of March 17 at the Palm Springs Convention
Center will feature Native entertainment and honored guest N. Scott Momaday.
Referred to as ”the dean of American Indian writers” by The New York Times,
Momaday holds an important place in the American literary arts. A poet,
playwright, artist, essayist and novelist, Momaday crafts – in language and imagery –
majestic landscapes of a sacred culture. Momaday was the first American
Indian to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his novel, ”House Made of Dawn.”

The March 18 ”Family Shorts” program is a lively collection of animated
and live-action short films suitable for the entire family. This program will be
followed by a kid-style reception.

That day’s screening will highlight the ”centerpiece film” of the
festival, ”Spirit Riders – Riding to Mend the Sacred Hoop,” James Kleinert’s
visually rapturous exploration of the birth of an American Indian peace movement
and how its growth has united such diverse regions of the world as Central
America, Australia, Ireland and South Africa. Narrated by acclaimed actor Peter
Coyote (”Erin Brokovich,” ”Bitter Moon”) and featuring ”Lord of the
Rings” star Viggo Mortensen.

Presented on March 19 will be ”New Native Voices,” an adventurous program
of short films focused on the work of a talented new breed of Native
filmmakers whose contemporary and exciting perspectives on traditional issues of
culture and heritage showcases a brave and promising Native cinema to come.

Concluding the festival is a special closing-night film: ”Trudell,”
Heather Rae’s acclaimed, beautifully woven, impressionistic portrait of iconic
American Indian poet/activist John Trudell and his turbulent life which
represents both a literal and metaphorical mirror of modern Native history.

The closing night reception will give film buffs and filmmakers alike a
chance to mingle and bask in the success of what has become the West Coast’s
finest American Indian film festival.

Consistent with the museum’s mission of education and outreach, ticket
prices for the festival are very reasonably priced. For more information, the
complete festival schedule and a synopsis of each film, visit the Agua Caliente
Cultural Museum
Web site, or
call (760) 778-1079.

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This article first appeared in Indian Country Today