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BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 12: Alyssa Wapanatâhk, Summer Testawich, Grace Dove, Carla-Rae attend the Red Nation Celebration Institute’s 28th RNCI Red Nation Awards at Fine Arts Theatre on November 12, 2023 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)



December 26, 2023

The 28th RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival, The Creative Enterprise by Natives delivering stories that shape our world, celebrated the top native films of 2023 from Nov. 1st through 30th, 2023, in Beverly Hills, CA

Los Angeles – The 28th RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF), presented by Red Nation Celebration Institute and Red Nation Television Network, took place from Nov. 1st through 30th, 2023 in Beverly Hills CA.

RNIFF screened 80 films featuring 8 Features, 16 Documentaries, 29 Doc Shorts, 13 Narrative Shorts, 8 Animation, 1 episodic, 5 student films, 45 directed by women, 40 women screenwriters, premiered: 9 World, 13 U.S., 23 Festival, 35 Los Angeles,  countries include United States, Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Greenland, Hungary, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom and Peru.

The competition offers audiences a first look at groundbreaking new voices from the Native Indigenous perspective in independent film.

RNIFF Film Program Lineup.

“This year’s festival theme ‘Only One Water.’ Globally, we are in a climate crisis, and at the core of it all is the stark reality that we only have one water source. It’s an urgent call to action to do everything in our power to safeguard this singular, life-giving resource,” states Joanelle Romero, RNCI founder, CEO, and president.

“The Red Nation International Film Festival is more than just a showcase of incredible Native cinema; it’s a celebration of our stories, our struggles, and our unwavering spirit. From the moment we stepped onto the red carpet, we felt embraced by the warmth and energy of the entire Indigenous community. The festival fostered a vibrant atmosphere where filmmakers, actors, and viewers could connect, share experiences, and learn from each other. The diverse selection of films offered a powerful window into the richness and complexity of Native life, tackling historical injustices, contemporary challenges, and the enduring strength of our cultures. The RNCI Red Nation Film Festival is a must-attend event for anyone who appreciates impactful storytelling and wants to celebrate the power of Indigenous voices. It’s not just a film festival; it’s a movement, a platform for amplifying our stories and showcasing the talent within our community.” quotes, Frank Blanquet, director of “Native Hope Champions: Riding for the Missing,” won Best Doc Short at RNCI Red Nation Awards.

Films featured Bones of Crows, War Pony, Common Ground, Four Souls of Coyote, The Unknown Country, Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun. 

The full RNIFF schedule.

28th RNIFF Success Stories

Ground-breaking three RNIFF films up for Oscar consideration 2024 Oscar race War Pony, Common Ground, Four Souls of Coyote in the categories of Best Feature, Best Documentary and Best International Feature. As the largest Native Indigenous film festival in the entertainment industry and the world, this is a remarkable achievement.

War Pony was the recipient of the RNCI Red Nation Honors ‘Vision Award’.

Common Ground won RNCI Red Nation Award for Best Documentary.

Four Souls of Coyote garnered nominations for Best Picture, Achievement in Directing, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role, and Best Original Screenplay.

Killers of the Flower Moon short-listed for makeup and hairstyling, music (original score), music (original song) and Sound – For Your Consideration for this year’s Oscars.

The Unknown Country, nominated in five categories at the 28th RNIFF, received accolades with Lily Gladstone winning the Gotham Award and securing a Spirit Award nomination.

Director Sisa Quispe‘s live-action short, Urpi: Her Last Wish, was nominated at RNIFF and won a Gotham Award. Sisa Quispe also became an LAIFF 2023-2024 LFI Inclusion Fellow.

28th RNCI Red Nation Awards

Several films secured distribution post-screening at the 28th RNIFF, including Four Souls of Coyote, Finality of Dusk, Gift of Fear, Guadalupe, and Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun.

The festival, unique in offering guaranteed distribution of American Indian & Indigenous Award-winning independent films, continues to be a significant platform for filmmakers.

28th RNIFF Highlights

45 films directed by women and 40 women screenwriters, screened this year at 28th RNIFF.  Over the course of the last six years, we have wholeheartedly championed the screening of an impressive 162 films directed by women. This laudable initiative serves as a resounding testament to our unwavering commitment to promoting inclusivity within the film industry. In a remarkable feat, we have even surpassed prominent film festivals like Toronto, Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, & the Oscars in terms of the sheer numbers of women-directed films featured.

Visit The Women of RNIFF.

War Pony directors Riley Keough and Gina Gammell attended premiere screening with Q & A. Directors Riley Keough, Gina Gammell along with screenwriters Franklin Sioux Bob and Bill Reddy received the Red Nation Honors The Vision Award on November 12th.

Common Ground Josh and Rebecca Tickell attended premiere screening with Q & A. Josh and Rebecca Tickell, won Best Documentary at RNCI Red Nation Awards.

Most of the eighty filmmakers were in attendance for their screenings coming in from New Zealand, Hungary, Peru, Canada, also in attendance were A-listers Rena Owen and Dermot Mulroney.

Rena Owens

Groundbreaking Recognition

Three RNIFF films are considered for the 2024 Oscar race, marking a significant achievement for the festival as the largest Native Indigenous film festival globally.

War Pony (Best Feature), Common Ground (Best Documentary), and Four Souls of Coyote (Best International Feature) are all in contention for Oscar recognition.

Killers of the Flower Moon, though not screened at RNIFF, earned recognition with several RNCI Red Nation Honor Awards.

Spotlight on Lily Gladstone

RNIFF paid tribute to Lily Gladstone, screening three films in which she starred—The Handsome Man, Lily Gladstone: Far Out There, and The Unknown Country. Lily Gladstone won the Gotham Award for Outstanding Lead Performance and is being considered for a Spirit Award.

The Handsome Man, directed by Misty Shipman and Hope Shipman, won for Best Live Action at 28th RNIFF.

RNIFF concluded with RNCI Red Nation Awards Ceremony. Every November RNCI Red Nation Awards launches the awards season, celebrating excellence in Native Indigenous cinema.

Hollywood & Indian Country’s Biggest Night for American Indian & Indigenous Storytellers. Hollywood has Oscar, Broadway has Tony, Television has the Emmy, and Indian Country has the Red Nation Film Award of Excellence™

28th RNCI Red Nation Awards

Bones of Crows took home top honors for Best Picture, Achievement in Directing, Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role, Outstanding Performance by an Actor in Leading Role, Outstanding Performance by an Actress in Supporting Role, Best Original Screenplay.

Edward James Olmos was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Martin Scorsese was the recipient of The Marlon Brando Award.

RNIFF honored Killers of the Flower Moon with RNCI Red Nation Honor Awards, recognizing the Osage Nation, Lily Gladstone, Cara Jade Myers, JaNae Collins, Jillian Dion, Tatanka Means, Tantoo Cardinal, William Belleau, Robbie Robertson, and Mike Fantasia.

Summer Testawich was the recipient of The Misty Upham Award for Bones of Crows.

War Pony Riley Keough, Gina Gammell, Franklin Sioux and Bill Reddy were the recipients of The Vision Award.

Chairman Cody Martinez of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation was the recipient of The American Indian Heritage Month Award.

Edward R Roybal Learning Center was the recipient of The Edward R Roybal Award. 

Director Faith Leone Howe The Nature of Healing was the recipient of The Courage Award.

RNCI Red Nation Awards presenters included Irene Bedard, Kiowa Gordon, Alma Martinez, Tonantzin Carmelo, Carla Rae, Rena Owens, Zion White, Cole Brings Plenty, JoDe Goudy and Louisiana Roybal Rose. 

Performances by Laura Grizzlypaws, Nataanii Means, Carlos Reynosa and Joanelle Romero Band added to the celebratory atmosphere.

RNCI Red Nation Awards broadcast on Red Nation Television Network Streaming Now

In-person Events included:

Seventy in-person screenings November 3-11.

Industry Networking Mixer @ AFM – November 2nd

Economic Development on Native Lands

California Native Indigenous Film Commission brings together Natives in Charge of their Narrative with industry allies at the American Film Market.

RNCI Red Nation Awards Ceremony – November 12th.

Virtual Events included: 

RNCI Awards Nominee Announcement

Press Conference on Sunday, October 22 where we will be announcing the Film Festival nominations.

RNCI The Conversation Series

Only One Water guests included JoDe Goudy (former Chairman of the Yakama Nation), Roberto Mukaro Borrero )Human Rights Activist), Sharon Day (Executive Director Indigenous Peoples Task Force) and Joanelle Romero (Humanitarian).

An innovative think tank within the Entertainment Industry, uniting Native and Indigenous filmmakers, creatives, and communities from around the world.

Festival at Home
November 13 – 30.

Streamed on Red Nation Television Network

American Indian Holocaust Memorial

The American Indian Holocaust Memorial was established in 2007 by RNCI, Downtown Los Angeles. The ceremony was held at The Los Angeles State Historic Park.

Post 28th RNIFF

Red Nation Television Network is thrilled to announce ‘Festival at Home’ thirty-one films, streaming now.

RNIFF Partners 

The RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival has enjoyed support from major studios, networks, foundations, institutions, media outlets and tribal nations.

The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for American Indian & Indigenous independent artists.

2023 Sponsors.

28th RNCI Red Nation Awards


Red Nation International Film Festival®( RNIFF) is a program of RNCI. Empowering Native Indigenous Storytellers Since 1995. Is the largest Native Indigenous Film Festival in the world and the first in Los Angeles.

Amplifying more than 5000+ Native and Indigenous content creators through its streaming company Red Nation Television Network, supporting 2700+ Native Indigenous filmmakers through its Red Nation International Film Festival, including films directed by women through its Native Women in Film & Television in All Media, since 1995. In the last six years RNCI has screened 162 films directed by women.

Los Angeles is home to the largest urban American Indian and Alaska Native population in the country, with over 200 tribes, including the original peoples of this land: the Tongva, Tataviam, and Chumash.

Red Nation Celebration Institute® (RNCI) The Creative Enterprise by Natives delivering to all people the stories that shape our world. Is the longest-running successful Native Women-Led Indigenous Media Arts and Cultural non-profit enterprise in the history of the entertainment industry. Serving over 575+ Native Nations in the U.S. and collectively on the planet 1200. Based in Los Angeles with an office in Santa Fe New Mexico.

Founded by Joanelle Romero in 1995 with the mission to break barriers of racism by creating systemic change through film television in all media in order to eliminate American Indian stereotypes. Our vision for the future of cinema and the arts is one in which Native Indigenous perspectives are authentically pictured, recognized, and valued in a way that promotes strong authentic Native identities, economic outcomes, equity, and wellness for our Indigenous communities. RNCI Board of Directors  

Red Nation Television Network® Red Nation Television Network holds the distinction of being the world’s first streaming company, predating not only Netflix but all others, and stands as the longest-running Native Indigenous television network. The station delivers distinctive content encompassing Native Indigenous culture, heritage, education, entertainment, and lifestyle. 


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