Te Ata portrait
Published November 6, 2017
ADA, OKLAHOMA – Chickasaw Productions’ critically-acclaimed “TE ATA,” will be available on DVD and Blu-ray beginning November 7, 2017.
Based on the inspiring true story of Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher, the film follows her journey as she traverses the cultural divide to become one of the greatest Native American performers in history.
Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said the Chickasaw Nation produced the film as part of an effort to share the story of the Chickasaw people.
“We are delighted to bring this story to audiences because Te Ata was a great ambassador for Chickasaw people and for all Native Americans.”
“Her performances touched the lives of thousands of families who learned to better appreciate the positive contributions Native Americans have made to this great country.”
The film recently wrapped a national release with screenings in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, New York, Oregon and California theaters. Due to overwhelming response, “TE ATA” screenings were extended in several cities.
“TE ATA” focuses on the early career of the famed Chickasaw storyteller, who is better known by her stage name, “Te Ata.”
Starring in the lead role, Q’orianka Kilcher earned praised from film critics for her performance as “TE ATA,” including “The New York Times’ Teo Bugbee.
“The movie’s driving force is its mythic performance scenes, which are choreographed, sung and acted with clear, balletic conviction by the film’s star, Q’orianka Kilcher, who collaborated with Chickasaw researchers and advisers. In the film’s most compelling parallel, just as Te Ata grew to be a voice for American Indians who lacked representation, Ms. Kilcher offers her star power on behalf of the Chickasaw.”
Deadline Hollywood film critic Anita Busch said (“TE ATA”) “looks like a $50 million Hollywood feature.”
Citing “great direction by Nathan Frankowski,” Busch noted, “The film delves into what it meant to be Native American at a time when assimilation was forced upon the culture.”
Born in 1895 in Indian Territory, Te Ata grew up steeped in Chickasaw Nation culture and traditions. She soon set out on an uncharted journey which included being the first Native American to graduate from Oklahoma Women’s College (now the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma) and honing her craft as an actress and storyteller through one-woman shows and performances on the Chautauqua circuit.
During her 60-year career, Te Ata shared stories and tales she learned from her Chickasaw father, T.B. Thompson, who is played in the movie by Gil Birmingham.
As her fame grew, she embraced the stories of other Native American tribes and shared those stories with the world.
Filmed entirely in Oklahoma, directed by Nathan Frankowski and produced by Paul Sirmons, the movie is set primarily in the early 20th century. At a time when certain expressions of Native American culture were banned under federal policy, Te Ata placed the beauty and value of Native American culture in the spotlight, helping members of the public view Native American culture as a vital part of American society.
The role of one pivotal figure during this time in history, Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglas H. Johnston, is played by Oscar-nominee Graham Greene. Scenes in the movie depicted some of Johnston’s struggles to maintain the existence of Chickasaw people.
Other principal roles in “TE ATA” are filled by Brigid Brannagh, who is cast as Te Ata’s mother; MacKenzie Astin who plays Te Ata’s husband, renowned scientist and anthropologist Dr. Clyde Fisher; and Cindy Pickett, who is cast as Te Ata’s mentor Miss Davis.
“TE ATA” won the Best Picture and Audience Choice – Feature awards at the Orlando Film Festival, Audience Choice – Best Drama at Gallup Film Festival, and Audience Choice Award – Narrative Feature at Heartland Film Festival, among other film festival honors.
Special Features on the “TE ATA” DVD and Blu-ray release include: Behind-the-scenes footage, “Toward the Rising Sun” music video and the original trailer.
Release of “TE ATA” on DVD and Blu-ray in November coincides with Native American Heritage Month.