The Native Filmmaker Initiative Film Club is a virtual youth education outreach program that screens a curated selection of Indigenous-made documentary films in classrooms across Montana. Following the screenings, filmmakers visit classrooms virtually for a live Q&A and discussion activities rooted in Montana's Indian Education for All Essential Understandings. Film Club discussions are led by the Big Sky Film Institute in collaboration with Montana Office of Public Instruction’s Indian Education Specialists as well as participating filmmakers to talk in-depth about the process of filmmaking.
The 2021 season of the NFI Film Club presents "Leaders of Tomrrow," a triptych of films curated to engage Montana youth with unique and uplifting stories of Native and Indigenous young peoples across North America who are fighting for their voices to be heard for the betterment of their communities. Three modern-day films highlight empowering Indigenous youth advocating for positive change to their environment (THE WATER WALKER), their community (FRUITS OF LABOR), and their heritage (SWEETHEART DANCERS). Scroll down to learn more about our 2021 selections!
HOW IT WORKS Running October through December, each Film Club event will focus on diverse Indigenous subjects and topics. Consult the discussion guides to help adapt the Film Club activities into social studies, science, history or other current areas of study. Films are available to view in advance of the Film Club discussion, and each classroom will receive access to discussion guides and instructions on how to join the live Q&A and discussion activities.
REGISTER YOUR CLASSROOM Calling all 6th grade – 12th grade teachers! Registration for Film Club 2021 is now open. Click "Register" on the select film(s) below to sign up your classroom to participate. We encourage you to register for all 3 but understand not all teaching schedules allow for this.
TAKE A DEEP DIVE! Interested in more about Indigenous storytelling and doucmentary filmmaking? The NFI Film Club Online Course is an expansion of club activities for teachers and students alike. A collaboration with Indian Education specialists and world-classes Indigenous filmmakers, the course combines Indian Education for All content with documentary film production to encourage students to engage in creative thinking around Indigenous history and storytelling. Created to be adaptive and flexible to a slate teacher subject matters, the course lays out how instructors can incorporate present-day Indigenous stories into their teachings while inspiring students with a comprehensive history in Indigenous storytelling, behind-the-scenes background on selected films, and a breakdown of doc film fundamentals. Learn more and register >>
Exploring ENVIRONMENT with THE WATER WALKER – James Burns, Stevie Salas, Kevin Monroe, Stacy Kim, Cora Siragna – Canada, 2020, 13 minutes
In 2019, 14-year-old Autumn was named the chief water commissioner by the Anishinabek Nation, a position previously held by her late Great Aunt Josephine Mandamin, an elder and founding member of the water protectors movement. THE WATER WALKER traces the roots, passion and perseverance of young Autumn and follows her story as she prepares to speak at the United Nations.
Exploring COMMUNITY with FRUITS OF LABOR – Emily Cohen Ibañez, Tracy Rector, Aurora Guerroro, Ashley Solis – USA, 2021, 76 minutes
A Mexican-American teenager dreams of graduating high school, when increased ICE raids in her community threaten to separate her family and force her to become the breadwinner for her family. She works long days in the strawberry fields and the night shift at a food processing factory. Set in an agricultural town on the central coast of California, FRUITS OF LABOR is a coming of age story about an American teenager traversing the seen and unseen forces that keep her family trapped in poverty.
Discussion Guide Coming Soon!
Exploring HERITAGE with SWEETHEART DANCERS – Ben-Alex Dupris, Rahdi Taylor, Davis Guggenheim, Derek Doneen - USA, 2019, 13 minutes
Indigenous dancers Sean and Adrian challenge the rulebook of San Manuel's Native American Sweetheart Special as they attempt to compete in the annual couple's competition. Dancing not only against the other dancers, but against the drums of oppression and closed-mindedness, this two-spirit couple is determined to rewrite the rules of "one man, one woman" with their resplendent charisma, character and resilience.
Discussion Guide Coming Soon!
Major support for the NFI Film Club is provided by the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, the Llewellyn Foundation. Support is also provided by the Greater Montana Foundation, benefitting the people of Montana by encouraging communications, with an emphasis on electronic media, on issues, trends, and values of importance to present and future generations of Montanans. Additional support for the NFI Film Club is provided by the Montana Community Foundation and the Montana Office of Public Instruction.