Vision Maker Media Announces Six Films Awarded Public Media Content Funding

2016_New_Film Projects_Press Release_Pie Charts
Published May 20, 2016
LINCOLN – Vision Maker Media is pleased to announce support for six new projects for production/completion, post-production and new media. The projects include a total of 19 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 outreach. 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 PBS viewers,” 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, California, Illinois, Montana, Oklahoma and Washington, and a couple of documentaries will span coast-to-coast. In this funding cycle, of the selected projects, 57 percent are mid-level filmmakers, and 42 percent are veteran filmmakers. Of this, 66 percent of the filmmakers are women, 33 percent are male. More than half, 66 percent, are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.
Funding was awarded as 75 percent production, 19 percent post-production and completion and 6 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. New media provides for programs with primary distribution over the Internet such as vignettes and webisodes, as well as creation of community engagement materials.
Catharine Axley
Production | $100,000
ATTLA tells the gripping but virtually unknown story of George Attla, an Alaska Native dogsled racer who, with one good leg and a determined mindset, rose to international fame to become a legendary sports hero among both western and native communities across the country.
Kendra (W.T.) 
Brooke Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish)
Production | $100,000
What does blood have to do with identity? Kendra Mylnechuk, an adult Native adoptee, born in 1980 at the cusp of the enactment of the Indian Child Welfare Act, is on a journey to reconnect with her birth family and discover her Lummi heritage.
The Blackfeet Flood 
Ben Shors, Lailani Upham (Blackfeet/Sisseton Wahpeton/Gros Ventre)
Production | $73,484
More than a half-century after the worst disaster in Montana history, two Blackfeet families struggle to come to terms with the 1964 flood. While one family held on to their rural lifestyle, the flood scattered the other family across the U.S.
Words From A Bear: The Enigmatic Life of Author N. Scott Momaday
Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa)
Production | $115,000
Words From A Bear examines the enigmatic life and mind of Pulitzer Prize winning author, N. Scott Momaday. The biography delves into the psyche, ancestry and writings behind one of Native America’s most celebrated authors of poetry and prose.
Keep Talking
Karen Weinberg, Kartemquin Films
Post-Production | $100,000
Kodiak Alutiiq Elders of Alaska’s Gulf Coast are among the victims of systematic assimilation and abuse, first by Russian occupation, then by the United States government. Now with less than 50 fluent Native speakers of Kodiak Alutiiq remaining, three young Alutiiq women battle the resulting historical trauma and discover that saving their language is truly a matter of life and death.
In the Beginning was Water and Sky
In the Beginning was Water and Sky is a short-form New Media project that tells two parallel stories about a Chippewa boy who runs away from Indian Boarding School in the 1950s and a Chippewa girl who runs away from her village in the 1700s.

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