Vision Maker Media Announces Public Media Content Fund Awards

by Mike Martz on July 17, 2013

Vision Maker Media announces ten, newly funded documentaries as part of its Public Media Content Fund. Sixty-two producers and public television stations submitted proposals for funding consideration for their documentaries by and about Native Americans and Alaska Natives.

Since 1990, Vision Maker Media has invited filmmakers to submit proposals in various stages of their film-from research & 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. “We support projects that have Native people in key positions–such as producer, director, director of photography, writer, or editor.”

The final slate of documentaries represents Native voices and stories from across the United States including Arizona, California, Idaho, Nebraska, New Mexico, Wyoming, and a couple documentaries will span coast to coast.

In this funding cycle, of the selected projects, 8% are emerging filmmakers, 34% are mid-level filmmakers, and 58% are veteran filmmakers. Of this, 42% of the filmmakers are women, 58% are male, and two-thirds are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe.

Funding was awarded as 33% research & development and 67% production, post-production and completion. Research and development aids producers in fully developing their storylines, identifying engaging characters and talent, and completing a production proposal and budget. Production provides funding for producers to film, record, and produce their documentaries. Post-production funding allows for completion of documentaries already-in-progress.

In alphabetical order, the funded projects are:

America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa
Martha Spanninger
This series is dedicated to examining how America’s rising multicultural population influences every aspect of contemporary culture and politics. The intent of the series is to educate the public, illuminating critical issues affecting America’s diverse populations. The series will include an episode on the North Dakota oil boom in Fort Berthold, North Dakota.

Chasing Voices: The Story of John Peabody Harrington & the Language Revitalization Movement
Daniel Golding (Quechan)
Obsessively driven linguist/ethnographer JP Harrington’s fifty years of work is the focus in this documentary that showcases how his immense and once hidden recordings of over a hundred Native languages are being used from the archives at the Smithsonian to breathe life back into Native America’s dying languages.

Drums of Change (Research & Development)
Christine Lesiak & Princella Parker (Omaha)
This is the story of the first Native American woman doctor, Susan LaFlesche Picotte (1865-1915) as told through her struggle to reclaim her tribal identity after her education in the world of Victorian America.

Horse Tribe
Janet Kern
Combining cinéma vérité and dream-like horse imagery, this film portrays the Nez Perce Tribe’s struggle to reinvent their legendary but lost equestrian culture, and the mystically gifted but deeply flawed Navajo horseman whose own fate intersects with theirs.

The Kashaya Fort Ross Project (Research & Development)
Jed Riffe & Peggy Berryhill (Muscogee)
Two-hundred years after the Russians abandoned the California settlement they shared with the Kashaya Pomo for thirty years, the Kashaya were invited to Russia to rekindle their relationship. This film explores their intertwined histories, reveals the remarkable bond between these diverse cultures, and constructs a unique tale for contemporary audiences.

Lake of Betrayal: The Story of Kinzua Dam
(Research & Development)
Paul Lamont
A story of loss, displacement, hope, and survival in the Seneca Nation, the film explores the construction of the Kinzua Dam that flooded Seneca lands on the Allegany Reservation. Now, the Senecas seek control of the hydropower operations at Kinzua.

The Mayor of Shiprock
Ramona Emerson (Diné)
Amid years of resistance and complacency, a group of young Navajo men and women have begun to take back their community and create change. The Northern Diné Youth Committee–led by their founder, 22-year-old Graham Beyale–has begun to inspire a whole new generation of leaders.

Native Report
Michael LeGarde (Grand Portage)
Told with distinct Native voice, stories will be presented about everything from resource management and talented artists, to language revitalization, engaging youth, and developing great leaders oftomorrow.

Robert Mirabal: Music & Myth
Robert Mirabal (Taos Pueblo)
Robert Mirabal, in enhanced traditional song and dance, tells stories of agrarian life and the mythological characters and ceremonies that surround the seasons of planting, growing, and harvesting. Pueblo dancers in colorful tribal dress join him at the Santa Fe Opera House.

Wind River
Mat Hames & Jordan Dresser (Shoshone)
When a young Northern Arapaho journalist is asked to tell the story of his Reservation for a small tribal museum, he joins elected tribal elders, including Vietnam veteran Philbert McCleod (Shosone), on a journey to return lost artifacts taken by collectors at the turn of the 20th century.

Vision Maker Media shares Native stories with the world that represent the cultures, experiences, and values of American Indians and Alaska Natives. Founded in 1977, Vision Maker Media, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) which receives major funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, nurtures creativity for development of new projects, partnerships, and funding. Vision Maker Media is the premier source for quality Native American and Pacific Islander educational and home videos. All aspects of our programs encourage the involvement of young people to learn more about careers in the media–to be the next generation of storytellers. Located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, we offer student employment and internships.

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