2019 Festival Spotlight: Indigenous Voices and Experiences

Celebrating Indigenous voices and experiences with a collection of Indigenous films, the fifth 4th World Indigenous Media Lab, a complimentary screening, and a free kickoff event.

2019 Festival Spotlight: Indigenous Films

We're proud to announce a comprehensive Indigenous focus that includes the fifth 4th World Indigenous Media Lab, a workshop and hands-on training for emerging and mid-career Indigenous artists; a kickoff celebration of Indigenous-made short films and filmmakers; a complimentary screening at Seattle Central Library; a traveling shorts package themed "Doing the Work!"; and a collection of narrative and documentary features all made by Indigenous directors and other films that highlight the Indigenous experience.

The full schedule is released, and tickets go on sale to Members, on May 1. Tickets available to the general public on May 2.

SIFF acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. This year's comprehensive Indigenous focus has evolved from our long and fruitful partnership with filmmaker/activist/SIFF programmer Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole).

Tracy Rector


Tracy Rector is a mixed race (Choctaw/Seminole) filmmaker, curator, community organizer, co-founder of Longhouse Media. For the last 17 years she has directed and produced over 400 films including shorts, features, music videos, and VR projects. Her work has been featured on Independent Lens, Cannes Film Festival, ImagineNative, National Geographic, Toronto International Film Festival, and in the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian. Tracy is in her second term as a Seattle Arts Commissioner.


A Colony

A Colony

Canada (Québec) | Geneviève Dulude-De Celles | 2018

High-school social pressure is hard enough to navigate for 12-year-old Mylia, but the backdrop of tension between white and First Nations students in this small Québec town makes it harder.

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For My Father’s Kingdom

For My Father’s Kingdom

Aotearoa New Zealand | Vea Mafile'o (Tongan/Māori), Jeremiah Tauamiti (Samoan) | 2019

Though director Vea Mafile'o's father now lives in New Zealand, he still tithes every cent possible to his church on his home island of Tonga. She created this documentary portrait to try to understand his motivations and her roots.

House of My Fathers

House of My Fathers

Sri Lanka | Suba Sivakumaran | 2018

The tragic and bloody real-life ethnic conflict between Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka inspired this magical-realist fable, in which a man and a woman from antagonistic communities must meet to remove the curse that afflicts both sides.

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Long Time No Sea

Long Time No Sea

Taiwan | Heather Tsui | 2018

In this box-office smash from Taiwan, a young isolated island boy yearning to see his father again and a rookie teacher come together to train for an Indigenous dance competition that will bring them closer to their dreams.

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N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear

USA | Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa) | 2019

This profile of Kiowa author Navarro Scott Momaday, 50 years after his Pulitzer Prize win, focuses on both his place in American literature and his role in keeping Native American oral tradition alive.

Join SIFF and the Seattle Central Library for a special complimentary screening of this film on May 25, 12:30 PM, Seattle Central Library.

Watch Trailer

The Nightingale

The Nightingale

Australia | Jennifer Kent | 2018

In director Jennifer Kent's brutal western, her follow-up to arthouse horror hit The Babadook, a vengeful Irish convict-woman and an Aboriginal tracker stalk a group of British soldiers through the Tasmanian wilderness.



France | Juan Antin | 2019

Guided by a condor, two ten-year-olds set out to retrieve an sacred statue from an Incan overlord in this animated adventure tale, inspired by colorful Indigenous art, set in the altiplano of Peru.

Sgaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife)

Sgaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife)

Canada | Hluugitgaa Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida), Jaada Yahlangnaay Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in Nation) | 2018

On a remote Canadian island, a nobleman retreats to the wilderness and spirals into insanity after accidentally killing his best friend's son. Crafted by an all-Indigenous cast and crew, this is the first film ever made in the endangered Haida language.

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Top End Wedding

Top End Wedding

Australia | Wayne Blair (Batjala Mununjali Wakkawakka) | 2019

A young Australian couple returns to the indigenous bride's Northern Territory hometown to find Mom missing; their hunt takes them though luscious landscapes and culture-clash humor in this adorable rom-com.

SIFF's second Saturday Night Party celebrates this Australian Indigenous feature on May 25, 6:00 PM, The House Studios.



Aotearoa New Zealand | Becs Arahanga, Amberley Jo Aumuaa, Matasila Freshwater, Dianna Fuemana, Mīria George, ‘Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki, Marina Alofagia McCartney, Nicole Whippy | 2019

A sequel of sorts to SIFF 2018's breathtaking Waru, featuring eight vignettes directed by nine female South Pacific filmmakers about eight Indigenous women all connected by their name and their empowering island stories.


SIFF 2019's lineup of Indigenous short films include the following:

Chasing History - USA | Charles Elmore & Cherokee Nation | 2019

dukʷibəɫ swatixʷtəd (Changer's Land) - USA | Tracy Rector (Choctaw/Seminole) | 2018

The Grave Digger of Kapu - Aotearoa New Zealand | Libby Hakaraia (Maori) | 2018

Gutk'odau (Yellow) - USA | Adam Piron (Kiowa) | 2019

Leave it on the Water - Canada | Steve Sxwithul'txw (Penelakut) | 2018

Moa Ma Le Pinko (Chicken and Bingo) - Aotearoa New Zealand | Amberly Jo Aumua (Māori/Samoan), Courtney Montour (Mohawk), Jesse Littlebird (Laguna/Kewa Pueblos) | 2018

Our Way of Life: A Video Poem for My Father - USA | Lacy Hawk (Suquamish) | 2019

Thunderbird - Canada | Erin Collins (Anishnabe/Fort William) | 2018

Doing the Work!

Doing the Work!

From bare-back horse racing to Madonna inspired dance routines, these are just a few of the ways Indigenous people get to work in this extraordinary package of seven short films.

Biidaaban - Canada | Amanda Spotted Fawn Strong (Michif) | 2018

Blood (and) Memory 2 - Marcella Ernest (Ojibwe) | USA | 2019

Emptying the Tank - Caroline Monnet (Algonquin) | Canada | 2018

Fast Horse - Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree) | Canada | 2018

Les Vaillants - Martin Gunn (Kitcisakik/Anishnabe) | Canada | 2018

Paulette - Heather Rae (Cherokee) | USA | 2019

Sweetheart Dancers - Ben Alex-Dupris (Colville) | USA | 2019


A celebration of Indigenous culture kicks off Memorial Day weekend with a complimentary event at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center, in partnership with The Gates Foundation. The evening includes a screening of Indigenous short films, a panel discussion about media representation with Native filmmakers, curated art market in partnership with yəhaw̓, and complimentary Indigenous foods and a cash bar. Meet foundation grantees and learn ways to get involved.

Friday, May 24 | 3:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center
3:00 PM - Art market opens
5:00 PM - Honor song
6:00 PM - Free screening begins



In partnership with the Seattle Central Library, join us for a special complimentary screening of N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear, a profile of Kiowa author Navarro Scott Momaday, 50 years after his Pulitzer Prize win, that focuses on both his place in American literature and his role in keeping Native American oral tradition alive.

The feature will be paired with short Gutk'odau (Yellow) by Adam Piron (Kiowa). Following the screening, director Adam Piron, community activist Paulette Jordan (Coeur d'Alene), short film director Ben Alex-Dupris (Colville), and other special guests will engage in a Q&A on the importance of shifting narrative from an Indigenous point of view through storytelling methodologies.

Saturday, May 25 | 12:30 PM
Seattle Central Library


Returning for a fifth year in partnership with SIFF, the 4th World Indigenous Media Lab features nine emerging and established Indigenous filmmakers from across North America over Memorial Day weekend, May 23 through 27. During the Media Lab, these artists create visual stories from their perspective as well as hone their filmmaking skills through industry master classes and hands-on training.

".046 percent of media makers identify as Indigenous. It is monumental that SIFF has taken on creating space for, and honoring, these voices—furthermore, this year's cohort represents all female and non-binary Native voices," said Tracy Rector M.Ed (Choctaw/Seminole), SIFF programmer, independent filmmaker, and Co-founder of Longhouse Media. "In this program we made a commitment to decolonize the media space and to uplift these filmmakers in a profound way that encourages the next generation of storytellers to feel seen and heard. And, my hope is that because future creatives see others like themselves on stage telling authentic stories, they too might take the chance to tell theirs."

The 4th World Indigenous Media Lab is supported by Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ITVS, Na'ah Illahee Fund, Native Americans in Philanthropy, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Seattle Foundation, Seattle Public Library, Snoqualmie Tribe, and the Suquamish Museum.

The SIFF Indigenous film program is sponsored in part by Tulalip Tribes Charitable Fund.

SIFF would like to thank Ingeniux; Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC in Renton; Encore; Hyatt Regency Seattle, the Official Hotel of the Festival; Amazon Prime Video; The Boeing Company; and Wongdoody for their support of the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival.