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Film festival: The Native Spirit Film Festival at SOAS

  • Culture

Simone Both, MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies

Last week, between Friday 12thand Sunday 14th October, the Native Spirit Film Festival came to SOAS as part of their annual film festival, which celebrates and displays the work of indigenous filmmakers. The Festival has been running since 2010 and this year is screening more than fifty films all over London in the run-up to UNESCO’s Year of Indigenous Languages in 2019.

On Sunday 14th October, SOAS hosted the Native Spirit Indigenous Cinema from 11 am to 6 pm, as part of an all-day screening event. This event focused specifically on indigenous filmmakers from the Americas. More than twenty films were screened and each covered all sorts of topics and different formats.

One film called ‘Mud’ (2017) was made by Shaandiin Tome, a short-film producer from the Navajo Nation in the United States. The 11-minute film tells the story of Native American Ruby, who is desperately trying to reconnect with her teenage son. However, Ruby’s addiction to alcohol prevents her from doing this. The film portrays the way in which addiction harms family relations, but it also explores the powerlessness of the addicted person. The dark setting of the film and smart use of light and shadow underlines these emotions.

Frédéric Julien directed a film set in Bolivia, called ‘3 Magalys’ which was first screened at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in 2017. This film portrays young indigenous journalist Magaly, who is working on a short film about her own tragic history. A family trauma and memories of violence and slavery make Magaly anxious to show the film to her relatives, including her husband and their young daughter. Yet, the emotional story reveals strength and resilience after a series of traumatic events in the Bolivian Amazon.

Between the screenings at the Native Spirit Indigenous Cinema, some directors even gave their comments on the films, the production and how the films were received. The audience then had the opportunity to ask questions and join discussions on identity, storytelling, preservation of indigenous languages and the way film can play a part in these.

The festival was an informative glance into the work of filmmakers whose representation and contribution is typically overpowered by larger productions. However, they are an interesting watch and a great insight into the lives and culture of diverse indigenous groups.

The festival runs for several more days so make sure to visit other activities of the Native Spirit Film Festival. There will be film screenings all over the city till the 21stof October!


Credits: Simone Both
Credits: Simone Both
Credits: Simone Both
Credits: Simone Both

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