During the cooler part of the evening on Wednesday, June 19, Community members set up their lawn chairs and blankets on the Lehi ballfield to kick off the 2013 Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Film Festival. The festival started on June 19 and ended on June 21, featuring evening screenings of 10 short films by Native American amateur film directors.
Back in 2006, the Community partnered with the American Indian Film Institute (AIFI) to be a part of their summer Tribal Touring Program (TTP). The TTP was designed to introduce young adults ages 13-19 to the realms of the film industry by bringing professional filmmakers, digital video equipment and expertise to tribal communities and working with youth to produce Native-themed short films in an environment that is educational, fun and career-directed.
On Wednesday the festivities started with introductions about the films as well as distributing pizza, drinks and a promotional item to attendees. The item was a blanket, which families could use while enjoying the films.
“I love independent films in general, but to watch Native American independent films is even better,” said Community member Elaina Osife. “I am so glad our Community puts this on every year. This is a real treat and open to everybody. I went last year as well, with my grandchildren. Although they ran around and played, there were times when they sat up front on the blanket that was given to them.”
The Salt River Film Festival is in its eighth year. For the past two years the event has been held at the Lehi baseball field. An average of 50 individuals ranging from infants to seniors come out for a night of movies under the stars.
“Last year we had two original TTP teachers showcase their films: Dan Golding, director of Songs of the Colorado, and Timothy Ramos, director of California Indian: A Tribal Story, said SRPMIC Community Relations Director Janet Johnson. “Dan also produced Waila! Making the People Happy, a story about the Joaquin Brothers and their chicken scratch music. It’s a treat to know that these directors that crossed paths years before are now interested in showcasing their films with the Community.”
This year’s festival also featured documentary films, including Casa Grande: House of Many Stories, directed by Chris Wheeler. The film recently won the first-place Platinum Remi Award in the Cultural category at the WorldFest Houston International Film Festival. Casa Grande: House of Many Stories is the park film for Casa Grande Ruins National Monument.
“Today, the trend continues to showcase Native American films that most individuals would not have the opportunity to view. It is hoped that the films will inspire those in attendance as our natural storytelling is provided in a digital format,” said Johnson.
“The film festival on the first day was pretty good. I came in towards the last parts of the night but thought it turned out great,” said Madzina Galvin.
First-timer to the film festival Alysia Chase said she really enjoyed it as well. “I thought everything went very well here at the film festival,” she said.
The SRPMIC Community Relations Department sponsors the event and continues to partner with the AIFI. This year, new partnerships were created, with V-tape from Canada, Vision Maker Media: Native Stories for Public Broadcasting, and the National Park Service.