About Us

Ernest M. Whiteman III (Northern Arapaho)
Director, FNFVF Inc.
FNFVF Director, First Nations Film and Video Festival

FNFVF Board of Directors
Forrest Bruce
Don Nole
Christine Redcloud
Adam SingsInTheTimber
Cassy Smith

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 skill levels.

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 blessing of Beverly Moeser, whom decide to move on and  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 III 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.

In August of 2011 the FNFVF became First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc being certified a non-profit corporation with Spencer and Whiteman leading as Co-directors. It has since gone on to attain its 501c3 status as a tax-exempt organization.

In 2012, Ernest M. Whiteman III assumed the full directorship to continue guide the festival. The festival remains a grassroots festival, a structure that resembles a grassroots social justice movement more than a structured non-profit, 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.

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.

FNFVF Inc. is currently looking for a full-time Co-Director to shared duties with our current Director. We are also looking for Board candidates every year, if you have any interest in helping FNFVF Inc. help Native American film makers from across the Americas, feel free to get in touch with your questions.

Thank you for the many years of support. Supporting FNFVF Inc. is supporting Native filmmakers!

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