About Us

FNFVF Board of Directors
BC Echohawk, Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, enrolled, and Otoe-Missouria and Iowa Nation descendant
Don Nole, Bad River Band of Chippewa Indians
Janie Pochel, Oji-Cree

Winfield Woundedeye, Northern Cheyenne and Ojibwe – FNFVF Youth Ambassador

FNFVF Directors:
Samantha Garcia (Lac Courte Oreilles band of Lake Superior Ojibwe)

Co-director, First Nations Film and Video Festival, Inc

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

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 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 decided 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 filmmakers the best these past years.

In 2016, FNFVF Inc, began hosting TWO annual festivals a year, which was a long-term goal. taking place on May 1-10, and November 1-10, this was a major milestone for the festival. In 2021, a variety of new programming begin – an outdoor screening program and an online panel discussion series were established to continue to outreach to audiences everywhere.

2022 saw the addition of Samantha Garcia as the new Co-director of FNFVF Inc. Bringing an enthusiasm and dedication to her role, Samantha has taken the lead on programming for the festival, as well as, helping with the day-to-day operations of FNFVF Inc.

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 remains dedicated to working with organizations that share its passion for contemporary representations of Native people.

We are currently looking for Board candidates, 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: info@fnfvf.org

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

3 thoughts on “About Us

  1. I would like to be contacted by the appropriate individual. I am a PhD student, and Native American Women will be the focus of my Dissertation. While not able to provide a venue, I would like to open a dialogue with your organization.

  2. Hi! I’m a critic for CineFile.info and a member of the Chicago Independent Film Critics Circle. I’d like to write up an overview of the First Nations Film and Video Festival. Are any of the programs previewable?

  3. Dear First Nations Film and Video Festival,

    My name is Hankyeol Song, and I’m interning at Facets Cinematheque, a cinema dedicated to screening independent and foreign films. I thought you may enjoy the Chicago screening of Pow Wow, and perhaps it could be an interesting film for members of your organization, as well. Pow Wow is a documentary set in Coachella Valley and features various people in the region, including country-club golfers, Native Americans who are aware of their own isolation in the region and of its colonized history, two local historians who are devoted to Native American traditions, real-estate developers planning to build houses on forbidding terrain, and the local show-business eminence, Shecky Greene. The film provides a smart and critical commentary on the ongoing and uncertain past and present struggles for water and freedom in the Coachella Valley. There are group rates available if you have interest. Please feel free to bring in a group or pass along the word to your members. Please reply to facetsintern@gmail.com or charles@facets.org if you have any questions. We hope to see you at one of the screenings! Thank you for your time.

    Hankyeol Song

    Pow Wow
    Directed by Robinson Devor, U.S.A., 2016, 72 mins.

    Fri., Feb. 16 at 7 & 9 pm
    Sat., Feb. 17 at 3, 5, 7 & 9 pm
    Sun., Feb. 18 at 3, 5 & 7 pm
    Mon.–Thurs., Feb. 19–22 at 7 & 9 pm

    Tickets can be bought online or at the door. Non-members: $10 Members: $5
    *Contact Charles Coleman for available group rates

    Charles Coleman, Film Program Director
    773-281-9075 or charles@facets.org

    Facets Cinémathèque is located at 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago, IL 60614. Free street parking is available in front of the building.

    Thank you, and we look forward to seeing you at the Facets Cinematheque soon! ​

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