FNFVF Statement of Purpose 2013
A Few things about the First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc.
With a new year come expectations for change. Here at First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc. we feel we should let you know where we stand on our services to you and to the Native film and video makers across the nation and beyond. Here are a few things you should know about us:
1) We are a small, without-walls grassroots organization.
Our structure is the FNFVF Board and the FNFVF Director. There is no one else in our organization. Yet.
2) We are all volunteers.
We take no wages. In the future we hope to attain funding that will offset our regular costs as well as bring in some filmmakers (Who have, in the past, simply attended at their own expense, bless them.) and open paid positions within the organization. We will be looking for donations and grants this year. For the time being, we are making due with what we have. Which is the very essence of artistic endeavor, we believe.
3) Our budget every year for the past seven years has been whatever is in our pockets that we can afford.
This is truly a grassroots effort in support of Native American film and video makers. We have had remarkable success in securing venues because we partner with fantastic organizations that share our mission of a proper cultural representation of Native American people. This is also one of our most stringent rules. Which has led to breaking ties with organizations that do not share the same goals of non-stereotypical representations of Native culture.
We have had some success in bringing in Native filmmakers through the right partnerships but mainly due to the generosity, caring and sharing of the mission from the filmmakers themselves. Sometimes our FNFVF Committee or Board members have come through but every year we operate with what we have. We hope to change this with generous partnering and vigorous grant writing and fundraising efforts.
4) Our primary goals is to promote Native American film and video makers.
This is our other most stringent rule. While there are many great films and documentaries about Native America, we push Native American first-voice and self-representation in media because for so long, the ability and opportunity to represent ourselves and not have our history and cultures the providence of white men has changed drastically in the last decade and the festival works hard to promote the voice of Native America in its journey to equity in media representation.
There are many films produced and written by Natives. We have stretched our guidelines to include non-Native directors in the past. But we all know who holds the creative reigns when the production of any film occurs – the Director. They are in all the casting choices, the preproduction, location scouting, in on almost every decision. They hold the creative vision throughout the shoot and into post-production. They create the mood with the cinematographer and lighting, they create the roles and acting choices with the actors, they maintain the storylines with the writer and they make the editorial decisions with the editor. The strongest creative voice in the process of filmmaking is the director, whose job it is to balance all of the creative and artistic work put in by the crew, actors, writers and producers. If that one key is missing, that one voice gone from the process, we cannot screen it and say we promote Native American first-voice.
The very face of film and video making has changed in the last few years, where anyone with a passion, a vision and talent can make great movies. The old gate-keeping structures are slowly fading away. We work hard to promote self-produced, first-time film and video makers because with so many Native views it re-enforces the idea of the literally hundreds and hundreds of tribes that exist still, each with its own culture and ideologies. The idea of “American Indian” and “Native American” should give way to the idea of the many tribal affiliations of the directors.
Our passion for Native self-representation has led us to screen films that are challenging to some. But this should be the right opportunity to engage in a larger community discussion. We are here, if you do not ask a question or challenge a view, how are we all ever going to learn?
There are plenty of opportunities and other festivals that will take the non-Native Native American film. We are the tiny festival in the corner, possibly in the entire country to promote Native American first-voice and self-representation in film and video and try to bring it to a wider audience. Because when we can break down the mental barrier that prevents Natives today from being seen as contemporary peoples, than it will be much more difficult to dismiss our peoples as ancient or extinct and for others to speak for us.
5) All our events are free and open to the public.
We do not take money from the filmmakers with application fees or entry fees. Nor do we take money from the public in admission fees. These are not our movies to sell or make money off of. We are such strong believers in Native first-voice and self-representation that we will not take money from the people or the creators. Our events are free to allow any one to see these amazing works, these NEW works that no one has seen from the Native community across the nation. It should be up to the filmmakers to determine where and when they sell their films.
Unfortunately, we live in a Pay-for-Play World in Native American Art right now. The idea that to be taken seriously as an artist that you need to be paid for it is irrational and counter to the notion of what art should be. If art is to have any true meaning we need to get beyond this colonized, consumerist ideology. We work hard to put these movies out there for everyone to enjoy and to learn from, to challenge and question. We only hope that you are able to come and support these filmmakers because they have something to say.
There it is, five simple things to remember about First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc. as we move forward into the future. We are a small organization, on the outside, but it is what we do that defines our film festival. So, when you read “The First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc. is a grassroots Native American film festival whose mission is to provide an appropriate screening venue to showcase works produced by Native American film and video makers and artists of all skill levels. The First Nations Film and Video Festival advocates for and celebrates the works of Native Americans that break racial stereotypes and promotes awareness of Native American issues and contemporary Native American culture. All films are written, produced and directed by Native American artists from the United States, Canada, Central and South American and Mexico.” on our website and on our materials, you know what stands behind it.
Ernest M. Whiteman III
FNFVF Board of Directors
Sharon Gissy, Secretary