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Who Tells The Story Matters at the 26th Red Nation International Film Festival – Line Up

Night Raiders

October 29, 2021

Los Angeles, CA – The 26th Annual Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF) will run November 1 – 30 this year, as produced by the Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI).  Focusing on greater inclusion and greater equity for Indigenous artists –– #NativesInChargeOfTheirNarrative remains the guiding principle of RNCI.  The festival will feature a combination of live at Lumiere Cinema at the Music Hall and virtual events.

Over the years, the RNIFF has screened movies from all around the world, featuring the work of more than eight hundred filmmakers, many of whom have gone on to substantial further success in the industry.  And in the last four years alone, more than a hundred of the directors whose work has graced the festival have been women.

Our opening night feature is Night Raiders, directed by Danis Goulet, and star Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.  (Tailfeathers is the previous winner of an RNCI Red Nation Award for her work in The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.)  The movie is distributed by Samuel Goldwyn Films, and is one of many top Native Indigenous feature films screening at the 2021 RNIFF.  It is an honor to present these films in advance of their premieres and/or U.S. theatrical releases.

This year’s closing night features are Antlers,

from the visionary world of acclaimed director Scott Cooper and horror maestro Guillermo del Toro comes ANTLERS.  In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) become embroiled with her enigmatic student (Jeremy T. Thomas) whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them.  Based on the short story The Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer, and J. Miles Dale and Wild Indian directed by Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr,  stars Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Jesse Eisenberg, Kate Bosworth.

The RNIFF is also a home to the Native Indigenous documentary voice, and this year the festival will screen nineteen documentaries.  In this vein, we will provide retrospectives for two distinguished, recent award-winning docs –– Invisible Hand, directed by Joshua B. Pribanic and Melissa A. Troutman, produced by Mark Rufflao; and Awake, A Dream From Standing Rocka film by Josh Fox, and James Spione, and the late great Myron Dewey.

Historically, in film and television, the Indigenous have often been portrayed through the eyes of storytellers intent on exploiting and perpetuating false stereotypes –– many of them profoundly damaging.  But in these years of cultural tumult and expanding consciousness, people of color generally –– and the Indigenous specifically –– are beginning to function in our stories in ways that reflect the reality of life, rather than some ongoing fantasy.  A wave of newly empowered filmmakers, now telling the stories they have actually lived, is a driver of the change, and RNCI is proud to have had a part in the empowerment.

In total, this year’s festival will screen 65 films –– 6 features, 19 documentaries, and 38 shorts, from the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, and New Zealand.  28 of these films are directed by women.

The lineup can be viewed at the Red Nation International Film Festival website  Tickets and Festival passes are now on sale.


Night Raiders [2021] – Director Danis Goulet (Métis Cree)

A mother joins an underground band of vigilantes to try and rescue her daughter from a state-run institution.

Antlers [2021] – Director Scott Cooper

From the visionary world of acclaimed director Scott Cooper and horror maestro Guillermo del Toro comes ANTLERS.  In an isolated Oregon town, a middle-school teacher (Keri Russell) and her sheriff brother (Jesse Plemons) become embroiled with her enigmatic student (Jeremy T. Thomas) whose dark secrets lead to terrifying encounters with a legendary ancestral creature who came before them.  Based on the short story The Quiet Boy by Nick Antosca. Produced by Guillermo del Toro, David S. Goyer, and J. Miles Dale

Wild Indian [2021] Director Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr

Two men learn to confront a traumatic secret they share involving the savage murder of a schoolmate.

Abducted [2021] – Director(s) Daniel Foreman (Métis) and Stephen McMichael

At the heart of our story is 17-year-old Derrick, a young man whose character arc begins with a boy who is fully dependent on his grandmother and his sister. Derrick’s sister, Lakota, is living an at-risk lifestyle dealing drugs for an all-woman gang. When she suddenly disappears, Derrick sets out to find her. Along the way, he faces racism, police brutality and his own lack of confidence. With guidance from his spirit animal, he is able to continue his journey with renewed strength and resolve, eventually facing his sister’s abductor in a thrilling fight to the death.

Portraits from a Fire [2021] – Director Trevor

Mack (Tsilhqot’in)

Portraits from a Fire is a coming-of-age film following an eccentric misfit named Tyler who spends his days recording and vlogging his community, until he meets Aaron; an older, influential teenager who pushes him to show his latest work about his family to the community, leading to a reckoning between the past and the future, life and death, and father, mother, and son.

Portraits from a Fire is about gaining the strength to face the fear of the unknown and weaving together the sacred bond of family in the face of Truth.

Sacred Journeys ll [2021] – Director(s) Nic Wells and Patricia Dickinson

A revolutionary ground-breaking collaboration of music and dance with Festival Ballet Albuquerque’s Artistic Director and choreographer, Patricia Dickinson Wells, two-time Grammy award winning Taos Pueblo musician, Robert Mirabal, and New York City Ballet icon guest performer and choreographer, Jock Soto.  Other choreographers included Vladimir Conde-Reche and Dominic Guerra.  The production also includes one work choreographed with American Sign Language.  Filmed at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in 2019, the Sacred Journeys ll production was critically acclaimed.

The Canyonlands [2021] – Director Brendan Devane

Five contest winners take a rafting trip down the Colorado River, and after camping for the night, encounter a miner with a score to settle.  Lauren, their guide, must find her way through the maze of canyons to save her travelers and herself.  As she works to save the group, she begins to unravel the 150-year-old mystery behind the visions in her head.


The Keepers of Corn [2021] – Director Gustavo Vazquez

Indigenous farmers, artisans and cooks all tell this story – in Spanish and in their own languages – of the origins of native corn and how their ancestors shepherded the ever-evolving seeds out of the dawn of agriculture and into the 21st Century; a collective labor involving over 350 generations.  Their voices are joined by community leaders, scientists, chefs, and others whose knowledge and activism stand, not only in defense of food sovereignty and the genetic integrity, diversity, and community ownership of native seeds, but in defense of a durable cultural legacy and a way of life.

Dancing Through [2021] – Director(s) Anika Syskakis and Madelaine McCallum

At 33 years old, Cree/Métis powwow dancer and jigger Madelaine has had a cancerous lump removed from her breast.  A year later, Madelaine discovers the lump has not only returned, but grown exponentially.  Follow Madelaine’s journey as an Indigenous woman grappling with a cancer diagnosis, navigating the western medical system, and ultimately utilizing the power of dance to guide her through.

Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust [2021] – Director Ann Kaneko

From the majestic peaks of the snow-capped Sierras to the parched valley of Payahuunadü, “the land of flowing water,” Manzanar, Diverted: When Water Becomes Dust  poetically weaves together memories of intergenerational women.  Native Americans, Japanese-American WWII incarcerees and environmentalists form an unexpected alliance to defend their land and water from Los Angeles.

Home From School: The Children of Carlisle [2021] – Director Geoff O’Gara

In 2017 a delegation of Northern Arapaho tribal members travels from Wyoming to Pennsylvania to retrieve remains of three children who died at Carlisle Indian Industrial school in the 1880s.  It’s a journey into the troubled history of Indian boarding schools, and a quest to heal generational wounds.

Frontera [2021] – Director Paola Castillo

Juan Carlos is a lonko who has fought for Mapuche autonomy.  Many question him because he agreed to work with the Chilean government to improve conditions in his community.  At home, he shares his concerns, while his animals watch the tension grow and the seasons unfold.

The Revolution Generation [2021] – Directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Tickell

The Revolution Generation is a manifesto for today’s youth on the societal forces that have shaped and held back their generation, and how they can deploy their unique strengths to revolutionize the political system.  Today half of the people on planet Earth are under the age of 40 – this is more people than were alive in 1950.  Theirs is the most connected, educated and technologically savvy generation ever.  Yet the hardships they face threaten to culminate in a perfect storm of economic, political, and environmental crisis.  This documentary explores the sweeping changes that lead to the world that young people are inheriting and paints a picture of how this generation is awakening to confront both the US political crisis and the global environmental crisis.

Djäkamirr: Caretaker of Pregnancy and Birth [2021] – Director(s) Ḻäwurrpa Maypilama and Pat Josse

Filmed in remote Arnhem Land, Djäkamirr follows Ḻäwurrpa and Sarah on a unique journey through ancestral time, country, and culture.  As mutual trust develops between the two women, they hope to empower Yolŋu and reclaim 60,000 years of birthing culture from the stronghold of Western medicine.  This is their story of working with community to pilot the training of djäkamirr- the caretakers of pregnancy and birth.

Mariposas Del Campo” [2021] – Director Bill Yahraus

Indigenous teenagers from Mexico strive to change their families’ destinies in the strawberry fields of Oxnard, California.  Through a stormy year of sanctioned racism and anti-immigrant policies, their journeys are captured—with help from their own videos—as they navigate cultural identity, parental expectations, economic challenges, and the justice needs of their migrant farmworker community.  For young people whose lives have always been lived in the shadows, it takes a tremendous leap of faith to chase a dream.

D-Day Warriors: It Was Our War Too [2021] – Director Emily Farr

Seventy-five years after D-Day, on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, one of the last surviving Native American D-Day veterans remembers his fellow soldiers in his traditional way – with ceremony, prayer, and through storytelling.  Charles Shay, Penobscot Indian, was just 19 years old when he landed on Omaha Beach in the first wave as a medic on June 6th, 1944.  Traveling back to Omaha Beach each year with a delegation of Native American veterans, he honors those who gave their all that day and continues to pave the path to healing across generations and ethnicities.

From Earth to Sky [2021] – Director Ron Chapman

From Earth to Sky explores the work of seven unique and accomplished Indigenous Architects as they design and complete extraordinary ‘buildings’ in cities and communities across North America and Turtle Island.  Beautiful and intimate, the film sparks a vital conversation paramount to transforming perspectives on how we approach our built environment.

Fighting Indians [2021] – Director(s) Mark Cooley and Derek Ellis

On May 16th, 2019, The State of Maine made history by passing LD 944 An Act to Ban Native American Mascots in All Public Schools, the first legislation of its kind in the country. For Maine’s tribal nations, the landmark legislation marked an end to a decades long struggle to educate the

public on the harms of Native American mascotry. Fighting Indians chronicles the last and most contentious holdout in that struggle, the homogeneously white Skowhegan High School, known for decades as “The Home of the Indians”. This is the story of a small New England community forced to reckon with its identity, its sordid history, and future relationship with its indigenous neighbors. It is a story of a small town divided against the backdrop of a nation divided where the “mascot debate” exposes centuries old abuses while asking if reconciliation is possible.

Circle of Eagles [2021] – Director Merv Thomas

Indigenous Brothers, Elders and Parole Officers share powerful stories of hope and healing from the legacy of Canadian residential schools, foster care, and systemic racism.  The film centers around a unique halfway home that imparts Indigenous culture and ceremony to recover from trauma on the road from prison to community.

The Missing and Murdered [2021] – Director Zeke Hanson

After the Dakota Uprising of 1860, 303 Dakota men were sentenced to death. President Lincoln commuted 264 of those sentences. On December 26, 1862 in Mankato, MN 38 Dakota men were hanged until dead in the largest single day mass execution in American History. In April 1863, the remaining men, women and children were moved by boat to Nebraska and South Dakota. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) ride was created to raise awareness and give thanks for those who endured that hardship.

Riders also bring their own names of loved ones who have been affected by violence since then, those who have been lost and left without a voice.

Their names are not forgotten.

Tzouhalem [2021] – Director(s) Harold C. Joe and Leslie D. Bland

Through interviews and creative re-enactments, this film examines the account of Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem’s life from historians and First Nations Elders, the folkloric tales concerning him, his impact on the relationship between the Government and First Nations, and how his legend remains alive, examining critically how his story has been told and passed down to us.

The Work of Art [2021] – Director(s) Shelly Errington and José Luis Reza

This captivating documentary takes us directly to the hearts, lives, and artistic processes of eight folk artists in Michoacán, Mexico, who reveal themselves in their own words.  Their work settings range from intimate locales in workshops and family homes to panoramic mountain vistas and festive markets.  Social and economic issues emerge discreetly as we see their craft practices and challenges.  Spanish with English subtitles.  Suitable for any audience.

Rez Metal [2021] – Director Ashkan Soltani Stone

When Kyle Felter, the lead singer of I Don’t Konform sent out a demo album to Flemming Rasmussen, the Grammy Award-winner producer of Metallica, they never imagined themselves a few months later rehearsing with Rasmussen inside a hot hogan on a Navajo reservation before recording their debut album at the iconic Sweet Silence Studio in Denmark.  While following I Don’t Konform’s fairy tale journey, our documentary Rez Metal, tells the larger compelling story of the heavy metal scene on Navajo reservations where many youths have grown disaffected as a result of endemic poverty and high rate of suicides.

La Lucha Sigue [2021] – Director Sam Vinal

In Honduras, the most dangerous place in the world to be a land defender, the Lenca and Garífuna people are not backing down.  They are fighting to uphold their spirituality and Indigenous ways of life in the face of state backed megaprojects and narco-traffickers who seek to assassinate them, destroy their lands, and erase their existence.


My Weaving Hands [2021] – Director Rio “Riquis” Castañeda

Mayan Backstrap Weaving is a complex and symbolic art form and is often undervalued or bargained for in the marketplace.  For indigenous non-organized weavers, making money can become very strenuous, especially when their huipiles must go undervalued and trivialized.

Woven Hoops [2021] – Director Sage Andrew Romero

A short animation sharing a Hoop Dance legend which brought 2 people together and helped inspire people for generations to come.

Glooscap And Noogami [2021] – Director C. A. MacFinn

A short animation loosely based on the Wabanaki creation story.

Johnny Crow [2021] – Director(s) Xstine Cook and Jesse Gouchey

Cree artist Jesse Gouchey paints a large-scale frame-by-frame animation of a young man’s journey through the justice system, and his physical, mental, and spiritual struggle to return to his son.  His journey is contrasted by a haunting poem by spoken word artist Mitcholos Touchie that speaks to the impacts of the colonial system.  Jesse painted the film over a period of 7 years in numerous outdoor locations in Alberta and BC.

The Ancestral Tree [2021] – Director p.a. duquette

The tragic loss of familial history, culture, and traditional community ties.

Through symbolism, this is a story of harrowing fractures through time, all the while honouring the legacy of a Métis Elder.

Doc Shorts:

Joe Buffalo [2021] – Director Amar Chebib

Joe Buffalo is an Indigenous skateboard legend.  He’s also a survivor of Canada’s notorious Indian Residential School system.  Following a traumatic childhood and decades of addiction, Joe must face his inner demons to realize his dream of turning pro.

Love In The Valley [2021] – Director Kel Cruz

For more than 25 years, indigenous Albuquerque artist Lonnie Anderson has been performing inspirational acts of art and creativity on Valentine’s Day for his wife, Anne.  Abandoned at a Wyoming orphanage as a child, Anderson found his way back to New Mexico.  The South Valley of Albuquerque, an area with a reputation for violent crime, has been the backdrop for most of Anderson’s art.

Love in the Valley explores not only Anderson’s love for Anne but also his deep love for the South Valley where she was born and where the two raise their two daughters today.  This is a story about abandonment, belonging, and transcending stereotypes through the power of love.

The Lakota Daughters [2021] – Director Victoria Kupchinetsky

Poverty, drugs, alcohol addiction, frequent disappearances of young women and the absence of law enforcement are all issues plaguing the Pine Ridge Native American Reservation in South Dakota.  Following strong matrilineal traditions of Native American cultures, the women of the Lakota tribe are working to create “a girl society” that fosters resilience and self-assurance in girls aged 10 to 18, and empowers future generations of the Lakota women.

Mana I Mauli Ola [2021] – Director Pake Salmon

The film outlines the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) outlining OHA’s 15-year strategic plan for 2020 to 2035, focusing on ways to mālama Hawaii’s people and environmental resources.

FULL LIST: Documentary Shorts – Visit

Live Action:

Kwêskosîw (she whistles) [2021] – Director Thirza Cuthand

En route to her girlfriend’s place on a night when the Northern Lights are out, a 2-Spirit nêhiyaw woman is assaulted by her cab driver.  Amidst the struggle, she discovers a deadly supernatural power that may help her solve the mystery of her mother’s disappearance.

The Dark Valley [2021] – Director T.J. Morehouse

An ordinary trip to Ventura Boulevard takes a grisly turn.

Je Promets [2021] – Director ZsaZsa K.

A latchkey kid struggles to occupy his days with joy, despite the lingering fear of his nightmares.

Waynaboozhoo and Bugwudjinini from The Mishomis Book [2021] – Director Ginew Benton

A father reads to his son an excerpt from the Classic Ojibway Book, The Mishomis Book, Voice of the Ojibway to teach a traditional lesson.

Kónááhoot’éhé [2021] – Director Lonnie R Begaye

Before embarking on a journey of a better life for himself. Dylon, a young Navajo teen faces a decision that may jeopardize his future and lead him to a darker life.

FULL LIST: Live Action – Visit



26th Red Nation International Film Festival & Awards the Largest Native Indigenous Festival in the Country 

#NativesInChargeOfTheirNarrative #WhoTellsTheStoryMatters 

Land Language Culture Tradition Identity

ABOUT Red Nation Celebration Institute  CEO/Founder 

Joanelle Romero (Mescalero Apache) is CEO, Founder and President of Red Nation Celebration Institute and Red Nation International Film Festival.  A member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences and the only but not the last Native Indigenous filmmaker to be short-listed for an Academy Award. Joanelle is deeply committed and driven to amplifying Native-Indigenous Storytellers in mainstream media worldwide. Through Red Nation Celebration Institute, now in its 26th year, representing over 570+ Native Nations, Joanelle has mentored more than 839 Native Indigenous filmmakers through the Institute’s labs and fellowships, has curated some 5000+ movies written, produced and directed by Native Indigenous people that premiered at the Red Nation International Film Festival and streamed through her Red Nation Television Network. Joanelle works with a respected board of directors, advisory board and leaders both native and allies in pop culture, media and social justice with an emphasis of Native Women and girls and Native youth.  Joanelle is an accomplished media proprietor, her career spans over forty-four years in the entertainment industry as an acclaimed actress in film and television, Award-winning director, producer, writer, marketer, film distributor, recording artist, singer/songwriter and humanitarian. Joanelle is born of Mescalero- Chiricahua Apache, Dinétah, Paiute and is Spanish- Sephardic. A relative of Pojoaque, Pawnee, Southern Ute, Haudenosaunee and Lakota. Joanelle is a traditional Sundancer, Chanupa-carrier with 40-years sobriety. Her Native Indigenous name is ‘Oyate Wayanka Po Win – People Who See This Woman’. Joanelle is a mother of two children, (who themselves are graduates of Yale University and Berklee College of Music), and an active grandma of three. To learn more visit: 


Red Nation Celebration Institute (RNCI), The Authentic Voice for American Indian & Indigenous Nations, founded 1995. The Creative Enterprise by Natives delivering to all people the stories that shape our world.  The longest standing Native Women-Led, Indigenous media arts cultural pioneer nonprofit enterprise in Los Angeles, offices in Santa Fe NM, serving Indian Country & Entertainment Industry, representing 570+ Native Nations, established a rich legacy of work by supporting 739+ Native Indigenous filmmakers. Mission is to break barriers of racism by creating systemic change through media and pop culture in order to eliminate Native American stereotypes. Our Vision for the future of cinema 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.

Properties include: Red Nation International Film Festival, RNCI Red Nation Awards, Red Nation Television Network Media Streaming Company (re-dating Netflix and Hulu), Native Women in Film & Television, RNCI Crew, California Native Film Commission, New Mexico Film Commission, American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles, Native Studies Center at USC, and Native Youth Matter – If I Can See It I Can Be It.


Red Nation International Film Festival™ (RNIFF) The Authentic Voice of American Indian & Indigenous Cinema™ is dedicated to breaking the barrier of racism by successfully replacing American Indian stereotype with recognition, new vision, arts, culture and economic prosperity by placing American Indian Filmmakers at the forefront of the entertainment industry and to introduce American Indian Filmmakers to larger, global mainstream audiences while championing Native Women in Film & Television and giving voice and inspiring native youth with our dedicated program Native Youth Matter™ – If I Can See It I Can Be It.™

RNCI Red Nation International Film Festival (RNIFF) – the Authentic Voice of American Indian and Indigenous Cinema – is the largest Native film festival in the country and was the first Native film festival in Los Angeles. RNIFF routinely secures top Native films and is dedicated to increasing the visibility of American Indian and Indigenous storytellers and artists in the entertainment landscape. RNIFF screens films and events for more consecutive days than any other film festival, including Tribeca, Sundance, TIFF, AFI or Cannes. The festival is held for fifteen and showcases features, documentaries, short films, student films with a spotlight on Indigenous films directed by Women, and that are either produced/directed/written by or star Native talent or the subject is related to the American Indian and Indigenous experience.


American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles

The HISTORY of ‘American Indian Heritage Month’ in the City of Los Angeles and the State of New MexicoRed Fox James, Niitsitapi, Blackfoot, rode over 4,000 miles on horseback from state to state seeking approval for a day to honor Native Americans.

~ On December 14, 1915, he presented the endorsements of 24 state governments at the White House. Red Fox James Born about 1884 in Blood Indian Reserve No. 148, Alberta Canada was a supporter of giving women the right to vote, because “In the early days, before the white-man came, the Indian women had equal voice in the council, and even was elected chieftain…”

~ Joanelle Romero, CEO/Founder Red Nation Celebration Institute, born of Mescalero-Chiricahua Apache, Dinétah, Paiute, and SpanishSephardic. A relative of Pawnee, Pojoaque, Southern Ute, Lakota and Haudenosaunee was so inspired by Red Fox James … that she worked hard for five straight years (2000 to 2005) with the former DCA/LA Manager Marjorie Reese to get American Indian Heritage Month (AIHM) established in The City of Los Angeles (officially recognized by the City of Los Angeles in 2005 with a proclamation). AIHM was officially recognized by the State of California in 2006 with a Resolution given to Red Nation Celebration Institute by the State of California Gov Schwarzenegger and Lt Gov Bustamante.

2006 City of Los Angeles Mayor’s Reception was produced by Red Nation Celebration Institute. Local Tongva Spiritual Leader Jimi Castillo officially recognized Joanelle Romero as “the First Lady of American Indian Heritage Month” for all Red Nations, due to her vision in founding and establishing the American Indian Heritage Month in the City of Los Angeles in 2006, in addition because she had succeeded in unifying the interests of 19 tribes in the Los Angeles area.

In 2007, when environmental consciousness came more clearly into the hearts and minds of Americans, RNCI founder Joanelle Romero was already breaking new ground by dedicating the City’s second annual American Indian Heritage Month to “Honoring American Indians as our Nation’s First Environmentalists.”In 2008, RNCI founder Joanelle Romero worked with the State of New Mexico with former Gov Richardson and Dept. Indian Affairs, in officially recognizing American Indian Heritage Month in the State of New Mexico, with a letter of recognition by Gov Richardson and Dept. Indian Affairs.


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