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Press Contact: Linda Tenequer Red Nation Celebration Institute E:




Los Angeles, CA (October 10, 2019) – The nonprofit Red Nation Celebration Institute, now in its 24th year, today announced the showcase of new American Indian & Indigenous independent feature films selected across all categories for the 2019 RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival – RNIFF – The Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Cinema. The festival, the largest Native film festival in the country, and the first Native festival in Los Angeles, hosts screenings in Hollywood, Los Angeles and Beverly Hills from Friday, November 1st – Thursday, November 14th, in celebration of American Indian Heritage Month.

Joanelle Romero, President and Founder of Red Nation Celebration Institute stated, “We are the NEW Hollywood. The time has come. Collectively, we are now engaging in the Authentic Voice of Native Cinema. We’re the original storytellers. This year’s festival is full of artists who offer an unprecedented point of view of the American Indian and Indigenous experience; the world is changed forever.”

Paul Audley, President of FilmLA and a Red Nation Celebration Institute board member, added, “We’re so proud to be a supporter of this festival and the activities that surround it. Our Board has committed its resources to supporting emerging and underrepresented filmmakers in First Peoples’ communities, which is a particularly special group for us. This is an opportunity to tell the world about the history and contemporary life of Indigenous people and to tell stories that cross cultural boundaries, helping to open doors to the creation of personal communications and a broader understanding of the world we live in.”

RNCI board member and Oscar-nominated actor Edward James Olmos, commented, “It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of this film festival. It’s arguably one of the most important film festivals in this country because it allows us to see ourselves in a manner that we usually never do.”

Dedicated to increasing the visibility of American Indian and Indigenous storytellers and artists in the entertainment landscape, the RNIFF screens films and holds events for more consecutive days than any other film festival, including Tribeca, Sundance, TIFF or AFI. The festival is held for two weeks and showcases features, documentaries, short films, episodic and student films with a spotlight on Indigenous films directed by Women and films that work to preserve Native languages. All the films in the festival are either produced, directed, written by or star Native talent and/or the subject is related to the American Indian and Indigenous experience.

Festival jurors for 2019, include: actress, writer and singer, Shari Belafonte; producer and former film studio marketing executive, Christine La Monte; Emmy-nominated producer and actor, James Tumminia; and Mary Kim Titla, Executive Director of the United Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.

2019 Festivals Film Jurors:

RNIFF 2019 will have its first event at FilmLA on Friday, October 25th at 10:30am. The Press Conference for the RNCI Red Nation Awards Nominee Announcement is presented by the festival and will be honoring the Entertainment Industry. This press conference and the RNCI Red Nation Awards Show are the only American Indian and Indigenous televised broadcast in the world.

The festival’s official selections include a total of 53 films, representing 9 countries and 5 first-time filmmakers; there are 21 films directed by women as well as an offering of films directed, produced and featuring LGBTQIA+ people.

Other RNIFF 2019 events include:

Native Youth Matter – If I Can See It I Can Be It Youth Masterclass Lab (ages 4th – 12th grade) to be held at Semillas Community Schools
Screenwriters Masterclass Lab, Presented by Red Nation Celebration Institute and NBCUniversal, “Working Towards the New Hollywood” to be held at USC Bedrosian Center

Native Playwright Stage Reading held at USC Bedrosian Center
Sneak Peek Red Nation Television Network Red Nation Conversation Series “American Indian & Latinx Unite” to be held at the Laemmle Fine Arts Indigenous Animation Masterclass Lab, Presented by Red Nation Television Network and NBCUniversal, to be held at CBS Television City Studios Diversity Panel at American Film Market
Sacred Water Ceremony led by Tongva elder Julia Bogany on November 2nd at 7:15am

The Festival will close with the RNCI Red Nation Awards Show, “Hollywood & Indian country’s biggest night for American Indian & Indigenous voices” cementing Native image at the forefront of the industry, highlighting the very best American Indian & Indigenous contributions in film, television, comedy, music and the arts.”

The Awards Ceremony on November 15, 2019 will be broadcast live from Beverly Hills on Red Nation Television Network.

Each year, 25 Awards are presented for excellence in film and television, in addition to the RNCI Red Nation Tribute Awards that honor individuals who have supported Native Communities, films, and organizations. RNCI is the only entertainment industry-related institute and film festival in the world that has created honorary awards named after iconic Indigenous people and their allies.

This year, RNCI Red Nation Tribute Awards include:

Sacheen Littlefeather, The Marlon Brando Award [Endorsed by Miko Brando, Marlon Brando’s son];

Albino Garcia, The Edward R. Roybal Award [Endorsed by The Roybal Family];

Montano Rain and Greta Thunberg, The Courage Award.

In 2018, the RNIFF drew attendees from the U.S. and other countries, generated economic activity for the State of California and the City of Los Angeles and supported local jobs. The RNCI Red Nation Awards Show live broadcast generated 10 million viewers in 37 countries.

In 2017 and 2018, the Festival screened 22 films directed by women, supported by the Festival’s program Native Women in FILM and it’s call to action #WhyWeWearRED. This year, the RNIFF will once again screen new films directed by women, 21 in total. It is unprecedented for any film festival to screen this amount of films directed by women containing subject matter relating to the American Indian and Indigenous perspective.

The Official Selections confirmed for the 2019 RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival are:


The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open (Canada – Directors: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn; Producers: Tyler Hagan, Lori Lozinski, Alan R. Milligan) – A love poem to women, THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN weaves a compellingly simple story around the complex themes of racialized female bodies, a country’s failure to support its most vulnerable youth, and the continuing effects of colonial violence. Los Angeles Premiere

Juliana & The Medicine Fish (Canada – Director: Jeremy Torrie; Screenwriters: Jake MacDonald, Jeremy Torrie; Producers: Tanya Brunel, Jeremy Torrie) Writer/director Jeremy Torrie teams with acclaimed children’s author Jake MacDonald to adapt MacDonald’s popular children’s book about a father struggling to save his financially- strapped fishing lodge while working to salvage his relationship with his twelve-year old daughter. World Premiere

Once Upon a River (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriters: Haroula Rose; Producers: JJ Ingram, Haroula Rose) – It’s 1978 and Margo Crane, a 15 year old Native teen, akin to Huck Finn, takes to the Stark River on an odyssey. Based on the best selling novel ONCE UPON A RIVER by Bonnie Jo Campbell. Los Angeles Premiere

Falls Around Her (Canada – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Darlene Naponse) – Falls Around Her follows Mary Birchbark (Tantoo Cardinal), a legendary singer who returns to the vast wilderness of her reserve to reconnect with the land and her community. Los Angeles Premiere


Women of the White Buffalo (U.S.A. – Director: Deborah Anderson; Screenwriters: Charlotte Chatton, Deborah Anderson; Producers: Deborah Anderson, Adam Schomer, Kumiko Hayashi) – A matriarchal society upended by centuries of genocide and colonialism has disenfranchised the Lakota women and simultaneously reinforced their roles as the backbones of their communities and the keepers of their people’s ancient wisdom. World Premiere

The Condor & the Eagle (Canada, Ecuador, France, Peru, U.S.A. – Directors: Sophie Guerra, Clement Guerra; Screenwriters: Sophie Guerra, Clement Guerra; Producers: Douglas Blush, Alexandra Johnes,Janet MacGillivray Wallace) – Oscar-winning Editor/ Producer Douglas Blush (Mr. Soul, Icarus, 20 Feet From Stardom, The Hunting Ground, The Invisible War, etc.) says about The Condor & The Eagle: “This documentary takes the struggle for Climate Justice beyond the standard borders of separate nations and shows a new, larger movement rising up across many Indigenous peoples, using thrilling cinematography, deeply personal stories and the urgency of tomorrow’s headlines. The Condor & The Eagle is both a profound work of climate journalism and an exhilarating, emotional adventure film.” Los Angeles Premiere

N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear (U.S.A. – Director-Producer: Jeffrey Palmer) – Journey into the mind and soul of Native America’s most celebrated author of poetry and prose, Pulitzer Prize winning author Navarro Scott Momaday. Los Angeles Premiere

MERATA: How Mum Decolonised The Screen (New Zealand – Director/ Screenwriter: Hepi Mita; Producer: Chelsea Winstanley) – An intimate portrayal of pioneering Maori filmmaker Merata Mita, told through the eyes of her children. Using hours of archive footage, her youngest child discovers the filmmaker he never knew and shares with the world, the mother he lost. Festival Premiere

In Good Faith (U.S.A. – Directors: Beverly Penninger, Alyson Young; Screenwriter: Penninger Beverly; Producers: Beverly Penninger, Alyson Young) – A documentary that centers around the work of Dr. Orlan Svingen, professor of history at Washington State University (WSU), and his ongoing work with the Mixed Bands of Shoshone, Bannock and Sheepeater Indians at the Fort Hall reservation in Pocatello, Idaho. Los Angeles Premiere

My Blood is Red / Meu Sangue é Vermelho (UK / Brazil – Directors: Various; Producers: Brian Mitchell, Jeremy Sams, Marcelo Vogelaar) – A musical love story, a tragedy and a celebration of the Indigenous lens. In the middle of an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe a teenage indigenous boy sings in the rain forest; the rapper, Werá Jeguaka Mirim, writes protest songs fuelled by the anger and sadness that he feels about the destruction of his people. World Premiere

Conscience Point (U.S.A. – Director: Treva Wurmfeld; Screenwriter: Brian Johnson, Treva Wurmfeld; Producers: Julianna Brannum, Alli Joseph, David Eisenberg, Treva Wurmfeld) – Exposing a painful, quintessentially American geography, CONSCIENCE POINT unearths a deep clash of values between the Native American Shinnecock and their elite Hamptons neighbors, who have made sacred land their playground. Los Angeles Premiere

Whitewashed: The Ethnic Cleansing of America (U.S.A. – Director: Dave Taylor; Producers: Debra Friedkin, Anuk Bald Eagle, Dave Taylor) – Since the 1870s, Native Americans have been subjected to attempted cultural genocide through forced conversions to western religions, forced separation of their children for ‘re-education’ in the boarding school system that created trauma and dysfuction within the native communities over five generations. This film explores the lasting effects of these assaults on Native culture and how they are still ingrained in the dominant culture today. Los Angeles Premiere

Thirst For Justice (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer Leana Hosea) –Armed only with facts and their illnesses, extraordinary citizens take on industry and government, risking arrest to protect water. From Flint to the Navajo Nation, via Standing Rock, this is their story. Los Angeles Premiere

Ishkueu Territory / Woman’s Territory (Canada – Director/Screenwriter/ Producer: Claude Hamel) – Eight Native women storytellers, writers and poets performing live at the Atalukan Storytelling and Legends Festival in Mashtueiatsh (Pointe-Bleue), Quebec. US Premiere

Keep the Fire Lit – Lost Tribes of Texas (Mexico/US – Director: Fox Redsky; Screenwriter: White Raven; Producer: Fox Redsky) Six hundred years after the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, the Spanish colonization and the White Settlers’ Movement that came in its wake annihilating many tribes and decimated the numbers of those that survived. The descendants of the Texas tribes now speak out, sharing the legends and stories of their people, handed down to them over countless generations, revealing their oral histories and the spiritual ceremonies inherited from their ancestors. World Premiere


Sacheen: Breaking the Silence (U.S.A. – Director: Peter Spirer; Producers: Gayle Anne Kelley, Richard Spero, Betty Lyons, Victoria Gemmill) – Sacheen Littlefeather remains the first person, the first woman of color, to utilize the Academy Awards to make a political statement. Littlefeather, a 71-year-old White Mountain Apache and Yaqui elder, shared a statement from Marlon Brando that was televised around the world at the first Oscars global broadcast in 1973. As we revisit one of the most memorable and controversial moments in the history of the Academy Awards, Sacheen’s voice will finally be joined together with today’s brave women, who are determined to make their voices heard. Festival Premiere

Empowered (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Travis Holt Hamilton) – For four years, the Jicarilla Apache Nation’s Johnson O’Malley program, led by Lynn Roanhorse, and Holt Hamilton Films have joined forces to encourage, motivate and empower Jicarilla Apache youth by providing hands on learning and mentorship in the filmmaking process. World Premiere

L’EAU EST LA VIE (Water is Life): From Standing Rock to the Swamp (U.S.A – Director: Sam Vinal; Producer: Melissa Cox) – On the banks of Louisiana, fierce Indigenous women are ready to fight to stop the corporate blacksnake and preserve their way of life. They are risking everything to protect Mother Earth from the predatory fossil fuel companies that seek to poison it. Los Angeles Premiere

Arapaho Truths ( U.S.A. – Director: George Giglio; Producer: Dara Weller) – The Northern Arapaho People of the Wind River Indian Reservation of Wyoming as storytellers, pass their culture to the next generation as the Elders tell children four traditional stories, using clay animation, shadow puppets, performance, paintings, and drawings – making the stories come to life. Festival Premiere

Spirit Warriors: A Legacy of the Navajo Veteran (U.S.A. – Director/ Screenwriter/ Producer: Randall Wilson) – Spirit Warriors chronicles the history, sacrifice, contribution and service of the Navajo veteran from World War One to Iraq. The Navajo veterans speak candidly about their experiences in war and their spiritual ceremonies to welcome them back into civilization and the tribe. World Premiere

Children of the Dig (U.S.A. – Director: Joshua A Branstetter) – In 2009, a 500-year-old artifact was discovered on the beach outside of Quinhagak, Alaska, opening the door to the most productive archaeological dig in Arctic history with 60,000 artifacts recovered so far: in 2009, the site was 50 feet from the ocean. Today it is ten. World Premiere

Sober House: A Sign of Change in Cree Nation (Canada – Director/Screenwriter/ Producer: Wendell Collier) – Tells the story of a small group of outspoken Indigenous youth in Northern Saskatchewan who are looking to break the cycle of generational damage caused by alcohol in their communities. Turning to a “Sober House” concept, they take it to City Hall as a way to garner support for their movement. World Premiere

Return to Foretop’s Father (U.S.A. – Director: Preston Randolph) – A Native American elder travels from the reservation to a sacred landmark and conducts a historic pipe ceremony to bring awareness to climate change and the negative impacts resulting from the disconnect between nature and modern culture. World Premiere

Forward, Together: Stories from the National Gather of American Indian Veterans (U.S.A. – Director/Producer: Joseph Podlasek) – Forward, Together – Stories from the National Gathering of American Indian Veterans bring together interviews from Native veterans, veteran service providers, tribal leaders, and more to educate the public on Native peoples’ contributions to the U.S. military and the unique challenges they face while and after serving. World Premiere

Douglas Cardinal – Architect of the Future (Canada – Director: Andrée Cazabon; Screenwriter: Idoia Arana-Beobide Cardinal; Producer: Douglas Cardinal) – The biographical film of the acclaimed architect and the Indigenous knowledge system, pays tribute to an Anishinaabe raised in Blackfoot territory, revealing how his native culture and indigenous worldview fuel his creative genius. The film, written by his wife, Idoia and produced by Douglas Cardinal, features his friend, world-renowned artist, Alex Janvier and their pledge to change Canada’s colonialism through their art. World Premiere

Economic Reconciliation (Canada – Director: Andrée Cazabon; Screenwriter: Maurice Switzer; Producer: David Sharpe) – Produced on the heels of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations, this film elevates the voices of Indigenous Leaders on economic reconciliation, who pave the way forward towards concrete solutions that can help fuel economic growth of Indigenous Nations, benefiting the entire country. World Premiere

Sapara Clothing: A Tradition in Danger ( Ecuador – Director: Yanda Montahuano & Samanta Castro; Producers: Yanda Montahuano & Roberto Santi) – For centuries, the Sapara people of the Ecuadorian Amazon made their clothes from the resistant and natural fabric that the forest grows for them. As people have become more used to commercial clothing, this tradition has been increasingly neglected. US Premiere

Gagulhchugh Nen Gagusun (The Land Looks Good All Around) (Canada – Director: Jeremy Williams) – A poetic journey through the breathtaking and culturally-significant landscapes of the Dasiqox watershed, with reflections and stories shared by Tŝilhqot’in in Nenqayni Ch’ih (Tŝilhqot’in language). World Premiere

Missing You by Joanne Shenandoah (U.S.A. – Director: Elijah Goodell; Producer: Peter Conway) – A music video to bring awareness to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Los Angeles Premiere

Native and American (U.S.A. – Directors: Taylor Hensel, Brit Hensel; Producers: Holly Daniels, Marcus Daniels, Stacey Woelfel, Robert Greene) –Native and American, Holly Spaude confronts her mixed heritage and seeks to define her identity within her tribal community, while navigating her tribe’s blood quantum standard and working to help preserve the endangered Potawatomi language. World Premiere

Respect Your Elders, Chum (Canada – Director: Jack Belhumeur; Producer: Wapikoni) – Chum, learns a lesson respecting his elders. World Premiere


Dak’Toka Taíno ( U.S.A – Director/Screenwriter: Alba Enid García; Producers: Heather Henson, Sam Koji-Hale, Danny Hastings, Alba Enid García) – A young Taíno girl, Marabelí, visits her grandma, Abuela Yaya after Hurricane María, and expresses her fears of survival. Yaya comforts and reminds her of their resilient Taíno ancestors and challenging history while reflecting on the future of Puerto Ricans as an Indigenous society. Los Angeles Premiere

Raven Meets the Little Makers (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: Daniel Foreman; Producer: Sharlene Millang) – Raven’s new friends invite him to their home. While trying to figure out their magic, he’s startled by a hungry Coyote. His friends nowhere to be found, he goes searching for them with the angry Coyote on the prowl after them all. US Premiere

Togohoop (U.S.A – Director: Sage Andrew Romero) – Based on real experiences with supernatural incidents in Tovowahamatu (Big Pine, CA) with local tribal members. Film is based in the 1990’s and is entirely in Paiute language. World Premiere

The Creation of the World (Mexico – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Antonio Coello) – The creation myth is adapted into an animated short film made by Seri indigenous children and elders. US Premiere

The Healing Dance (Canada – Director: Shaelyn Johnston; Producers: Sara McIntyre & Shaelyn Johnston) – Rosie is preparing to dance in her first pow wow, but after Nookomis tells her the origin story of jingle dancing, she worries that she’s not as ready as she thought she was. The drums are calling, but will Rosie answer them? US Premiere

Mni Wičoni (U.S.A. – Directors: Miguel Antonio Genz, Jeremias Galante; Screenwriter: Michael Genz) – A short black and white hand drawn film on the environment and how the fossil fuel industry is affecting climate change. Dedicated to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Dakota Territory, the main theme centers on the Dakota Access Pipeline. World Premiere

Minnie’s War Bonnet (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Yvonne Russo) The animated short plays to Minnie Hollow Wood, one of the many women warriors who fought courageously alongside male warriors in major battles such as the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876. Minnie was the first Lakota woman warrior to be honored with a sacred War Bonnet, a symbolic give-away, representing one of the highest honors of war, peace, and valor. Los Angeles Premiere


Prey (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter: Kyle Kauwika Harris) – A 19th Century Frontiersman, while hunting, encroaches on tribal burial ground and is pursued by a Cheyenne Brave in mourning. Los Angeles Premiere

Three Feathers (Canada – Director: Carla Ulrich; Screenwriters: Carla Ulrich; Writer, Anna Lumberjack, Jax Smith, Meeshelle Neal; Producer: Liz Levine, Brent Kaulback, Richard Van Camp) – After committing a shocking crime that devastates the innocence of their small community, three Native sons are sent to live on the land for 9 months to explore the power of restorative justice, while the Elders reconnect them to a life that was taken from them long ago. US Premiere

Los Americanos (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter: Kyle Kauwika Harris) – An immigrant mother with her son cross over into the United States to be reunited with her husband but find upon arrival that he has been deported. Los Angeles Premiere

Looking Glass (U.S.A – Director/Screenwriter: Ginew Benton; Producers: Ginew Benton, Bryan Downey) – After his father was murdered, Benjamin Looking Glass II, a young Native American man, builds a time machine using modern science and ancient knowledge in an attempt to bring his father back but ultimately discovers his true purpose in creation. Los Angeles Premiere

?í’???? ?íł ???̨́ ?????????’ – Hair Tells the Weather (U.S.A. – Director: Cherylee Francis; Producer: National Weather Service – Flagstaff) – Science isn’t all about numbers. In response to the need for increased mutual understanding between the National Weather Service and the Navajo people, a regional bilingual weather outreach document was created with the goals of improving public safety, providing educational resources in the Navajo language, and promoting the preservation of a language. Los Angeles Premiere

Two Brothers (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter: Montana Cypress; Producers: Montana Cypress, Ashley Cypress) – In the midst of the Florida Seminole Wars in 1830, a pair of estranged brothers contemplate what lies ahead for their people as they stare out over their homeland for what could possibly be, their last time. Los Angeles Premiere

Taken Home (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: Jonathan Elliott; Producers: Erica Orofino, Jonathan Elliott) – A film about the inability of Indigenous youth to maintain a connection to their culture and identity while in the foster care system and the effects this institution can have on the children forced into it. US Premiere

Hurray for the Riff Raff Pa’Lante (Puerto Rico – Director: Kristian Mercado) – An estranged family tries to reconnect amid the wreckage of post-Maria Puerto Rico. Starring Mela Murder as Milagros and Kareem Savingnon as Manuel. US Premiere

Thunderdance (U.S.A. – Director: Lee Cipolla; Screenwriter/Producer: Montana Cypress) – In the 1950s, a Native American man working as a diner dishwasher uses the art of dance to find his place between the Indian Relocation Act and the American dream. Los Angeles Premiere

Pow-Wow (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: William Mazzoleni-Valin; Producers: Benoit Desjardins, Vuk Stojanovic) – Matéo, a Métis teenager, is losing his bearings following the suicide of his father. In denial and anger, he will do anything to deny his native origins. US Premiere


The Spotlight program is a tribute to the cinema we love from throughout the years, honoring cinematic excellence. This year, we celebrate the 30th Anniversary of George Harrison’s feature film that changed the Native narrative forever…

Powwow Highway (U.S.A – Director: Jonathan Wacks; Screenwriters: David Seals, Janet Heaney, Jean Stawarz; Producers: George Harrison, Jan Wieringa and Denis O’Brien) – Two Cheyenne friends with very different outlooks on life set off on a road trip. Philbert Bono (Gary Farmer) is a spiritual seeker trying to find the answers to life’s questions; his pal, Buddy Red Bow (A Martinez), is a realist who sees the world in black-and-white terms. Festival Premiere 

This section of the Festival is specifically for our emerging independent filmmakers.

Hollywood Indian (U.S.A. – Director: Gabrielle Norte; Producers: Anthony Bonetti, Allissa Williams) – History of Native American depictions in film and tv through the eyes of four modern Native American filmmakers. World Premiere

Out of Ashes (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Gabrielle Norte) – An open letter to you who have been burned by life. World Premiere

Lightning Boy (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Michael R.L. Begay) – Los Angeles Premiere

The Tree (U.S.A. – Director: Samantha Sylvers) – Los Angeles Premiere

The Polar Tour (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: Dustin McGladrey; Producers: Courteney Morin, Dustin McGladrey) – Three university friends embark on an adventure they hope never to forget. In the middle of their first tour, the engine of the rover breaks down, isolated and freezing in the dark, they wait for rescue. US Premiere

Self Portrait (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter/Producer: Faun Harjo) Struggling with gender identity, sexual orientation, and cultural identity has been a normal aspect of my life. Being pulled in and out of native culture and feeling like my queerness was unwelcome by my people, I separated myself for years. Now I explore my relationship with my culture by decolonizing myself and others by sharing my identity openly and honestly. Los Angeles Premiere


Uncolonized (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: Anand Pavamani; Producers: Anand Pavamani, Michael Barkey, Lisa Cromarty) – Neal and Kyla are an outdoorsy happily married interracial couple on a hiking trip to celebrate their 10 year wedding anniversary. While on the trip, Kyla finds out something about her past that shocks her and will change their relationship forever. World Premiere

Even in the Silence (Canada – Director/Screenwriter: Jonathan Elliott; Producers: Jonathan Elliott, Erica Orofino) – A visual poem told entirely in Kanien’keha (Mohawk language) that examines the impacts of underage drinking in Indigenous communities and the struggle to overcome grief and past traumas through culture and traditional practices. Festival Premiere

Nádleehí / Two Spirit (U.S.A. – Director/Screenwriter: Kymon Palau; Producer: Jolena Palau, Kymon Palau) – Two men dressed as women have captured someone. This ‘someone’ represents a theme much bigger than them. *This film is to bring awareness to the dehumanization of those who identify as two spirit. World Premiere


The RNIFFestival is the Institute’s public program flagship alongside festivals in Santa Fe, NM; Washington D.C.; Las Vegas, NV; and San Diego, CA, in addition to other screenings and events elsewhere throughout the year. Red Nation Celebration Institute supports independent artists with year-round programs, including Masterclass Labs and residencies for artists around the world working in film, theatre and episodic content.

Dedicated to increasing the visibility of American Indian and Indigenous artists and stories in the entertainment landscape, RNIFF routinely secures top Native films.

Films curated for the Red Nation International Film Festival have received broadcast network deals, distribution deals, actors have been hired for television series, cast in feature films, asked to be presenters at NAACP Image Awards and writers have been placed with showrunners. The RNIFF has locked down exclusive screenings with major production companies and chosen films to screen before they were screened to the general public. For the past 15 years, RNIFF has screened Academy Award-winning films and Emmy Award-winning films before they were nominated — including “Frozen River”, “The Garden” and “Honor the Treaties.” In addition, RNIFF was the first festival in the world to screen “Twilight Saga: New Moon” (in partnership with Summit Entertainment) and “Wind River” before they premiered to the public. All these films received awards at the RNCI Red Nation Awards Ceremony.

2017 – RNIFF partnered with Cannes Film Festival winner Taylor Sheridan and Producers to hold an Exclusive festival screening of “Wind River” in Los Angeles.

2019 – RNIFF partners with Janus Films and Handmade Films in screening “30th Anniversary of Powwow Highway,” the feature film that Changed the Native Narrative forever.

2019 – RNIFF partners with ARRAY, Ava DuVernay distribution company in screening Merata: How Mum Decolonized the Screen

“Red is Green Carpet” – The RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival was the first to launch the “Red is Green Carpet,” placing Native talent on the Red carpet, in order to ensure that American Indian artists remain at the forefront of the Entertainment Industry.

Native FILM Market – Red Nation Celebration Institute ground-breaking initiative INDIGENOUS EYES FILMMAKER SHOWCASE was launched in November 2015 and sponsored by Honest Engine Films, in partnership with Red Nation Television Network, and presented by Red Nation Celebration Institute in Santa Monica at the Loews Hotel during American Film Market. 1,000 distribution and production companies were invited, 400 attended the Red is Green carpet gala. This launch created a buzz, both internationally and locally, as industry professionals were amazed at how many Native and Indigenous films have been produced.

Sponsors and Partners – RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival 2019 sponsors and partners include FilmLA, Inc, Honest Engine Films, NBCUniversal, CBS Television Studios, ARRAY, Novo Foundation, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, University of Southern California Bedrosian Center on Governance, University of Southern California Price School of Public Policy, AFI, the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department, District Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the United State of Women White House Summit, KUSI News, FilmFreeway, OutFest, Janus Films, Handmade Films, California Film Commission, Picuris Pueblo, FinalDraft, Inn of the Mountain Gods, Red Nation Television Network, Native Women in FILM, Native Youth Matter, Outta Your Backpack Media, La Plazita Institute, United National Indian Tribal Youth, Discover Hollywood Magazine, Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America, Hotel Santa Fe, Plaza Cafe and StormStudios.

Celebrities and Dignitaries – The Red Nation International Film Festival has been attended by many celebrities and dignitaries over the years. Some of those names include: Benicio Del Toro, Dan Aykroyd, Edward James Olmos, Ed Begley Jr, Jason George, Miko Brando, Taylor Sheridan, Annabeth Gish, Dr. Jane Goodall, Dolores Huerta, John Savage, Max Gail, Benjamin Bratt, Peter Bratt, Susanna White, April Webster, Sally Kirkland, Hawk Lopez, Ronee Blakley, Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth Kucinich, Mitch Perry, Gary Busey, Shepard Fairey, Balthazar Getty, Alma Martinez, Lita Ford, Phil Soussan, Alan Krigger, Paul Rodriguez, Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the late City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Former Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales, 2018 Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber, 2018 New Mexico Congressional candidate Debra Haaland and many Native Celebs like Gil Birmingham, A Martinez, Zahn McClarnon, Forrest Goodluck, Duane Howard, Arthur RedCloud, Faith Keeper Oren Lyons, Eddie Spears, Michael Spears, Joe Brings Plenty, Kimberly Guerrero, Jeremiah Bitsui, Chaske Spencer, Heather Rae, Ajuawak Kapashesit, Tonantzin Carmelo, Tantoo Cardinal, Saginaw Grant, Tatanka Means, Tokala Clifford, Tribal Leaders, and the late Misty Upham, the late Russell Means, the late John Trudell, and the late Edward Albert Jr., to name a few.

The State of California is the Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at our Festival’s venues and site:

For the past three years, the Red Nation International Film Festival has partnered with the University of Southern California and the RNIFF will be working in partnership with USC on events for the 2019 festival. This collaboration marks the first time that USC has partnered with a Native institute. The goal of this long-term partnership is to create a cross-disciplinary center on campus to support storytelling and scholarly work in Native American & Indigenous studies at USC. The center will serve as an academic and cultural resource center, officially called “The Red Nation Celebration Institute Center.”


Founded in 1995 by Actor, Award-Winning filmmaker and AMPAS member, Joanelle Romero, Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI) is a nonprofit organization and is the Authentic Voice of American Indian and Indigenous independent storytellers. RNCI’s mission is in promoting, advancing, advocating and empowering independent filmmakers, media artists and content creators, with an emphasis on initiatives for Native women and youth, in all media platforms, in conjunction with partners from around the world.

RNCI’s signature Labs, grants and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling

In addition to the Film Festival, our brand enterprise includes Red Nation Television Network. Since 2006, Red Nation TV was the first on-line streaming company, launching before Netflix or Hulu. Red NationTV streams feature films, original content, shorts, documentaries and news to our audience. Red Nation TV Network is the largest online streaming Native content provider and is the first multimedia venture, not only in the United States, but internationally WORLDWIDE, that showcases the lives and cultures of American Indian and Indigenous peoples around the world.

RNCI Board of Directors:
Serving the North American Indian, Canadian First Nation Peoples and the International Indigenous Peoples since 1995. Join Red Nation Celebration Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. For daily and weekly updates visit


Celebrating 29 Years of the Native Narrative through Artist Development


Double the Impact