On-screen representations of indigenous peoples in mainstream movies have often been contentious, from the early Westerns’ eternal depiction of Native American tribes as the ‘baddies’ to recent controversies surrounding non-indigenous actors taking on indigenous peoples’ roles. In some part, these distorted histories can be attributed to the scarcity of indigenous peoples in the roles of scriptwriter, director, and cinematographer.
However, times are changing. There is a rise in indigenous-language films being made by indigenous peoples; films with positive, contemporary themes, where indigenous peoples are not eternally stereotyped as helpless victims adrift in a modern world advancing at their expense. This development has been mirrored by the increase in the number of international film festivals, which now contain a category devoted to indigenous films.
An example of this sea-change has been with the film Edge of the Knife, the first feature film spoken in the Haida language––an endangered language that currently has only 24 native speakers––and including indigenous actors, screenwriters, and directors from Haida Gwaii.
Native Spirit Foundation
Native Spirit Foundation promotes the protection of the rights of indigenous peoples around the world by advancing education about the art, culture and heritage of indigenous peoples.
A significant part of the work of Native Spirit Foundation is promoting indigenous-language films in an attempt to generate a platform for dialogue and exchange between indigenous communities and modern societies.
Native Spirit Festival and SOAS
SOAS World Languages Institute is partnering with Native Spirit Foundation for the opening night of the 13th Native Spirit Festival. The event takes place on the evening of 12 October 2019 in the Brunei Gallery, SOAS.
The festival promotes indigenous language films, raising awareness of the rich cultural contribution that indigenous peoples make to the world.
The evening will feature a screening of Ida Anita del Mundo’s film K’na the Dreamweaver, which is in the T’boli language, an Austronesian language spoken on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines, where approximately 100,000 Filipinos identify as T’boli speakers. The film will be shown with English subtitles.
Tickets to the event are available on Eventbrite.
Find out more
- Find out more about the documentation and description of endangered languages
- Native Spirit Foundation
- Check out the SOAS World Languages Institute
- Discover some of the languages you can learn at SOAS