Vision Maker Media Announces 11 Films Awarded Public Media Content Funding

Published August 6, 2017

LINCOLN, NEBRASKAVision Maker Media is pleased to announce support for 11 new projects for production and completion, post-production, research and development, and new media. The projects include a total of 26 producers and/or Public Television stations which were selected for funding their documentaries by and about Native Americans.

With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), Vision Maker Media’s Public Media Content Fund awards support to projects with a Native American theme and significant Native involvement that ultimately benefits the entire Public Media community. Since 1990, filmmakers have been invited to submit proposals in various stages of their film–from research and development, to production, post-production/completion and new media. All proposals are reviewed by a group of Public Television professionals, station programmers, independent filmmakers, educators and executives from Indigenous organizations.
“The goal of the Public Media Content Fund is to increase the diversity of voices available to PBSviewers,” said Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux), executive director of Vision Maker Media.
The final slate of documentaries represents Native voices and stories from across the United States including Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, and New York. In this funding cycle, of the selected projects, 33 percent are mid-level filmmakers, and 67 percent are veteran filmmakers. Of this, 47 percent of the filmmakers are women, 53 percent are male. More than half, 57 percent, are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.
Funding was awarded as 39 percent production, 39 percent post-production and completion, 8 percent research and development, and 14 percent new media. Production provides funding for producers to film, record and produce their documentaries. Post-production funding allows for completion of documentaries already in progress. Research and Development provides funding for developing story lines and identifying engaging characters. New Media provides for programs with primary distribution over the Internet such as vignettes and webisodes, as well as creation of community engagement materials.
Searching for Sequoyah
James Fortier (Ojibway)
Production | $59,470
The first documentary feature to chronicle the legendary accomplishments and mysterious life of the famed Cherokee renaissance man, Sequoyah. While much is known about Sequoyah’s many accomplishments, very little is known about the man himself. The greatest mystery is not how he created the Cherokee syllabary, but rather the details of his final journey to Mexico and the circumstances of his death.
Rez Metal
Ashkan Soltani
Post-Production | $20,000
The story of the thriving heavy metal music scene throughout the Navajo reservations where many young heavy metal bands and their fans have grown disaffected as a result of endemic poverty, a high rate of suicide and domestic violence.Without a Whisper
Katsitsionni Melissa Fox (Mohawk/ Kanien’keháka)
Research & Development | $20,000
Through the unlikely friendship of two women, Dr. Sally Roesh Wagner and Mohawk Clan Mother Louise Wakrakatste Herne, the film examines the hidden history of the profound influence of Haudenosaunee women on the beginning of the women’s rights movement in the United States in the early 1800s.

Rematriation
Michelle Schenandoah (Mohawk)
New Media | $35,000
The new multi-media e-Magazine titled Rematriation is focused on healing from historical and current traumas and empowerment of Native women to rise within their cultural and traditional roles in their communities. This multi-dimensional magazine will include 12 in-depth video interviews of powerhouse Native American women from across the country.

Blood Memory
Drew Nicholas
Production | $36,935
Battles over blood quantum and “best interests” resurface the untold history of America’s Indian Adoption Era. A survivor of this stolen generation returns to heal her community. A child welfare attorney redresses the law he once fought to protect. The future of Indian Country hangs in the balance.

A Kayak to Carry
Mark Blaine
New Media | $34,835
Learn how building a traditional Sugpiaq kayak can help maintain and invigorate a language, a culture and a way of knowing the land and ocean. When Sugpiaq children add their knowledge and energy to the work of elders, scholars, hunters, fishermen and boat builders in one of the most remote areas of Kodiak Island, the result is a sense of optimism and strength.

Ancestors in the Archives (Working Title)
Zachary Khalil (Ojibway)
Research and Development | $20,000
In the sterile archives of museums, our ancestor’s remains struggle to find their way home. The film follows the 11 indigenous repatriation specialists that make up MACPRA (Michigan Anishinaabek Cultural Preservation and Repatriation Alliance). Through an essayistic approach, the film takes a critical look at the reasoning that justified unearthing and collecting them in the first place, and presents vérité portraits of the courageous individuals doing the hard and emotionally draining work of fighting for their return.

Forgotten Warriors: Native Americans in the Vietnam War
Leya Hale (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota/ Diné)
Production | $79,986.27
Follows three Native American veterans 56 years after the Vietnam War who have left behind the shame of the war and carry their warrior legacy proudly.

Unforgettable
Mary Katzke
Post-Production | $100,000
The emotional story follows Samuel Johns (Athabascan), proudly sober Alaska Native hip-hop artist, father and advocate for Anchorage’s homeless as he takes bold steps, stumbles, grows and picks himself up time after time in a trajectory of rising leadership for Alaska Native youth.

Dawnland
Adam Mazo
Post-Production | $80,432
A documentary about cultural survival and stolen children: inside the first truth and reconciliation commission for Native Americans.

Saving Mother Earth (Working Title)
Riley Sutika
Production | $25,063
Profiles the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi located in Dowagiac, Michigan, about their cultural and historical ties to the environment–specifically water resources. The program shows how the Pokagon Tribe is successfully combining its cultural and environmental preservation efforts. Viewers will learn how the Tribe’s environmental and cultural future are tied together–as they are for us all.

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