“First Encounters” Director Philip Sullivan, far right, dispenses arrows to actors portraying Chickasaw warriors while filming the award-winning documentary that will be shown in November by the American Indian Film Institute.
Published October 19, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO – The world’s oldest venue dedicated solely to showcasing Native American films has selected the Chickasaw Nation’s “First Encounter” for screening in November.
The American Indian Film Institute (AIFI) chose the documentary for its 40th annual film festival Nov. 6-14, 2015.
“First Encounter” was judged Best Short Documentary at the Trail Dance Film Festival in January; aired in March by the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), and was featured in June at Oklahoma City’s deadCENTER Film Festival.
The Chickasaw Nation was congratulated by Michael Smith, founder and director of AIFI, and by festival coordinator Mytia Zavala in a formal letter sent to the tribe recently.
“First Encounter” will screen at the AMC Metreon 16 Theatre, located at 135 4th Street in San Francisco. A date and time for the showing has not been determined.
The approximately 30-minute documentary was produced and filmed entirely by the Chickasaw Nation. It is the first film released as a Chickasaw Heritage Series project. Other films are planned for the future to complement “First Encounter.” It chronicles the Chickasaw Nation’s initial contact with Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in the winter of 1540 and the battle that crippled the conquistador’s mission in spring 1541.
A full-length motion picture produced and filmed by the tribe is in post-production. It tells of the early life to famed Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Thompson “Te Ata” Fisher. The movie is titled “Te Ata” and stars Q’Orianka Kilcher in the title role; Academy Award nominee Graham Greene and television and silver screen heartthrob Gil Birmingham. Release dates have not been announced.
Te Ata brought her considerable acting talents to Broadway and stages across America beginning in the 1920s. She entertained for President Franklin Roosevelt at a state dinner at his private residence at Hyde Park, New York. She also entertained British royalty, toured Europe, North and South America, and several Latin countries.
She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1957; was named Oklahoma’s first state “Treasure” in 1987 and was inducted in 1990 to the Chickasaw Hall of Fame. She died in Oklahoma City just days shy of her 100th birthday in 1995.