- By Native News Online Staff
For two decades, the Native Lab has elevated Indigenous storytelling through concentration on the distinct development of feature film and episodic work by storytellers from Native and Indigenous backgrounds.
The 2023 Native Lab will be held online May 1–5 and continues from May 8–13 in person in Santa Fe, N.M.
Participating artists will enhance their storytelling and technical skills, including one-on-one feedback sessions with advisors and roundtable discussions, where they will also explore indigenizing their creative practices.
“One of the core tenets for us in the Indigenous Program is that we support a broad spectrum of Indigenous storytelling – our cohort of five Native Lab Fellows and the projects they’re bringing to Santa Fe demonstrate that commitment to supporting diverse narratives and approaches,” said Adam Piron, Director of Indigenous Programs. “We’re looking forward to seeing where those different global and tribal perspectives the Fellows bring to the table will help them as they enrich each other and themselves, and I’m so pleased to have our Creative Advisors on hand to participate in this process of collaborative discovery.”
Also attending will be Artist in Residence Taylor Hensel (Cherokee Nation), auditing the lab while in script development.
According to a statement from the Sundance Institute, experienced advisors are an instrumental part of the Lab. The Native Lab Creative Advisors include Andrew Ahn, Alex Lazarowich (Cree), Dana Ledoux Miller (Sāmoan), and Jennifer Reeder.
The Native Lab is overseen by Adam Piron, Director of the Institute’s Indigenous Program (Kiowa and Mohawk), and Ianeta Le’i, the Program’s Senior Manager.
The five participating fellows and their projects include:
- Eva Grant (director/writer) with Degrees of Separation (Canada): In this smart and stylish ensemble comedy, Indigenous Ph.D. student Delphine plans a daring heist to return Ancestral remains to her tribe. But first, she and her team must outsmart the White Saviours and Collectors who have arrived in the community like vultures, ready to pick the bones clean.
Eva Grantis a bilingual filmmaker of mixed St’at’imc Indigenous, Asian, and European heritage. She is currently a Vancouver Queer Film Festival Disruptor Fellow and an Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Ontario. A former E20 screenwriter, she studied literature and philosophy at Stanford University.
- Quinne Larsen (writer) with Trouble (U.S.A.): Five people living in an abandoned desert motel try to put their world (and their giant robot) together from scraps.
Quinne Larsen is a Chinook writer and cartoonist in Los Angeles (Tongva territory). They’ve worked on shows at Sony Pictures, Cartoon Network, Disney T.V.A., and Netflix. They’re currently working on an original graphic novel for First Second.
- Anpa’o Locke(writer) with Growing Pains (U.S.A.): Kawá, an urban Native teen, and her mother, Elizabeth, a relocated rezzer, return to their hometown in South Dakota after Elizabeth is hired as the new Lakota teacher at the reservation high school; Kawá navigates friendship, queerness, and belonging on the reservation.
Anpa’o Locke is a Hunkpapha Lakota and Ahtna Dené writer, filmmaker, and curator from the Standing Rock Nation. She was a 2022 Sundance Indigenous Fellow focused on Native diaspora experience and self-determination in filmmaking. She holds a B.A. in Film Studies from Mount Holyoke College and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
- Jana Schmieding(writer/producer/actor) with Auntie Chuck (U.S.A.): A rezzy spinster must find her inner auntie when she’s tasked with taking care of her siblings for two weeks.
Jana Schmiedingwrote on and co-starred in Rutherford Falls and is known for her comedic roles on Reservation Dogs, The Great North, and Spirit Rangers. A Lakota woman, Jana is making her mark on the entertainment industry as an actor, writer, and producer, bringing Native stories to mainstream audiences.
- Cian Elyse White (director/writer) with Te Puhi’ (New Zealand, United Kingdom): Aotearoa, 1962. 19-year-old Te Puhi claims international fame overnight when she is crowned Miss New Zealand - the first Māori to win the title. Torn between duty and her dreams, Te Puhi navigates the disconnect from home when she moves to London against her family’s wishes.
Cian Elyse White(she/her) is a Te Arawa, Ngāti Pikiao/ Ngāti Te Tākinga, Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou (Te Whānau a Ruataupare, Te Whānau a Hinetāpora), Ngāti Kahungunu ki Te Wairoa, Tainui writer, director and actress born in Rotorua, New Zealand. Cian has written scripts for stage and screen, including Kōtiro (Daddy’s Girl), PIIKSI/HUIA, and Te Puhi (in development). In 2022, Cian won the award for ‘Outstanding Newcomer’ at the Women in Film & Television awards, N.Z.
Previous Sundance Institute Native Lab Fellows include award-winning filmmakers Sterlin Harjo, Sky Hopinka, Shaandiin Tome, Erica Tremblay, and Taika Waititi.
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