TRIBE Project presents Through My Eyes, a festival of short films created by indigenous minorities from all over the world. The films range from narrative triumphs to poignant documentaries and vivacious animations. Collectively, these are stories of resistance, courage, and hope.
Matthew Toffolo: What is your Film Festival succeeding at doing for filmmakers?
Tiger Moon: Through My Eyes is showcasing independent short films from all over the world — specifically, from filmmakers who consider themselves members of indigenous minorities worldwide. The festival includes films from six continents, celebrating “indi-geniuses” whose work is often overlooked by the mainstream film industry.
What would you expect to experience if you attend the festival this year (2017)?
We hope that every audience member learns something s/he never knew before, temporarily experiencing the world through the eyes of a stranger whose culture may be completely unfamiliar — and opening his/her own eyes to the lives of the planet’s overlooked indigenous populations. Ideally, our audience will come away with a new understanding of the word ‘indigenous’ (meaning ‘of the land’) that encompasses the original inhabitants not only of North America, but of the world at large.
What are the qualifications for the selected films?
The festival features a wide range of short films — “from narrative triumphs to poignant documentaries and vivacious animations.” Our only up-front qualification is that filmmakers identify as belonging to an indigenous population in their country of origin. But beyond that, we also consider this an activist’s film festival, and have curated our program to fulfill that goal. In an era marked by intense cultural conflict both at home and abroad, it seems more important than ever to create a platform for under-represented artists to express themselves — and Through My Eyes reflects that need.
Do you think that some films really don’t get a fair shake from film festivals? And if so, why?
In fact, that is exactly why Through My Eyes exists in the first place — to fill a hole that we, as indigenous artists, often feel — not only in film festivals, but in the media at large. There’s a huge ‘representation gap’ when it comes to ethnic minorities in general — moreover, the film medium is often dominated by a ‘Westernized’ or ‘colonial’ narrative style, which delegitimizes the diverse forms storytelling takes worldwide. We’re here to create a space where under-represented artists — specifically, artists belonging to global indigenous populations — can tell their own stories in their own ways.
What motivates you and your team to do this festival?
As a team of American indigenous artists, we’re really creating an opportunity for ourselves and other people like us. But in the process, we’re attempting to share that opportunity with other artists — who (while their artistic needs may not be exactly the same as ours), certainly suffer the same lack of representation in the film industry.
How has your FilmFreeway submission process been?
FilmFreeway has been a godsend! In contrast with previous platforms we’ve used, FilmFreeway has been amazingly intuitive and user-friendly. We’ll never look back!
Where do you see the festival by 2020?
This is our first year, and we’re extremely grassroots at the moment — we’re feeling our way through the process to a certain extent. If all goes as well as we hope it will this year, we’d like to expand the scope of the festival to include features as well as shorts, and to occupy several locations throughout the city. Over the next few years, we’re also planning to reach out to some of the world’s most under-represented populations — populations that may not yet have the resources to represent themselves on a global stage. If there’s an artist or storyteller in a remote village somewhere who would like to use the film medium to express him or herself, but isn’t sure where to start… TRIBE can provide equipment and, where necessary, the training to use it — and then use the festival to provide a pathway directly to the screen and the world stage. On a similar note, we’re currently working with three young Native American people living on Indian reservations throughout the U.S., teaching them the art of filmmaking from the ground up. During the coming year, we’ll be flying the participants out to Los Angeles to continue their education ‘on the ground’ from some of the best in the business. Next year’s festival will feature these up-and-coming artists’ debut films. Moving forward, we will also be expanding that program to include a larger group of young people… By 2020, we imagine we’ll be dedicating an entire day of the festival to our junior TRIBE.
What film have you seen the most times in your life?
Between the two of us in this room: I Heart Huckabees (Tiger: “Lots of great existential undertones”) and Labyrinth (Jenny: “David Bowie and Muppets. No further explanation necessary.”)
In one sentence, what makes a great film?
A great film shows you something you recognize in a way you’ve never seen before.
How is the film scene in your city?
We’re in L.A. — the film capital of the world! We’re literally surrounded by the Industry — in terms of film, if you can’t find it here, it generally doesn’t exist. So the fact that we haven’t seen any other festival quite like this before is exactly why we’re doing this. We saw a need, and we’re working to fulfill it.
TRIBE Project bio:
TRIBE (The Reason I Become Evident!) is a grassroots organization that strives to create a
sustainable platform for indigenous artists living in Los Angeles. The group is a passion project of Native American artist and activist Tiger Moon. Moon says: “As an actress and filmmaker, I have seen the opportunities the film medium provides to heal through storytelling. I see a chance to educate people about my culture in a stimulating, visual way.”
Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.
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