The purpose of the First Nations Film and Video Festival Inc. is to provide
an appropriate venue for Native American film and video makers of all
The First Nations Film and Video Festival Inc. advocates for and celebrates the works
of Native American film and video that break racial stereotypes and promotes
awareness of contemporary Native American issues and society.
Though depicted in film almost from the creation of the craft, Native Americans have
had little control in how others present them. From the savage warriors of early
westerns to the stoic environmentalists of today, Native film and video makers for so
long have gone without recognition and without a means to voice their perspective on
our shared society.
There needs to be a venue for all Native American film makers to be able to tell and
show their side of the story, their history and their perspective on today’s societies
and issues. Native Americans need to be in control of how others see them and
thereby gain that power back that was taken from them in the eras of colonization and
assimilation. For so long the voice of a evolving contemporary society has gone
without representation in today’s media-driven landscape. The control of these
images have been out of the hands of the Native American film makers themselves.
That is, until now.
The FNFVF was established in 1990 by Beverly Moeser (Menominee), the Festival
Artistic Director, as a one-day festival which screened thirty videos at Facets
Multimedia. Beverly was a film student with a passion for exploring Native issues
through the medium of film and videos. With Beverly’s dedication to film the festival
expanded to a three-day event. The FNFVF was housed at Facets Multimedia until
finally going on hiatus in 1994. Then in 1999, it returned with major venues such as
the Chicago Cultural Center, the Field Museum and Truman College. After which it
went on hiatus once more.
Dave Spencer, (Choctaw/Navajo) a member of the Chicago Native community
dedicated to Native American first-voice representation in the arts, with the help of
the Red Path Theater Company resurrected the FNFVF in 2002 as a presentation of
the American Indian Center. Dave Spencer first came aboard the FNFVF Committee in
1992 and took on Coordinator duties in 2002.
In 2004, it expand into a week-long festival with as many as ten different venues and
screened over 45 films and videos. It has since featured over one-hundred and fifty
new works from Native artists from all the Americas and has had programs at over
thirteen venues across Chicago and its surrounding suburbs.
In 2005, Ernest M. Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho) took over as FNFVF Coordinator.
The FNFVF screened over 45 films at over at 12 venues in Chicago and surrounding
suburbs. Ernest Whiteman continued as the Coordinator until 2008, holding an
annual film series, showcasing one feature film at multiple venues in Chicago and in
Denver, Colorado before going on hiatus once again.
In 2010 the First Nations Film and Video Festival returned with a full three-day festival
showcasing the latest in Native American-produced films and videos.
As of August of 2011 the FNFVF is now the First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc
being certified a non-profit corporation with Spencer and Whiteman leading as co-
managers. The festival will remain a grassroots festival which has served Native
American film and video makers the best these past years. The FNFVF remains
dedicated to working with organizations that share its passion for contemporary
representations of Native people.
In 2012, Ernest M. Whiteman III has returned to guide the festival.
While leadership has changed, dedication to the purpose of the FNFVF remains
intact. FNFVF is the only film festival whom deals exclusively with Native American
film and video makers and to provide them a venue, indeed, sometimes the ONLY
venue, for expression.
Ernest M. Whiteman III
FNFVF Board of Directors
Pics & Bios COMING SOON!