Sapaatq'ayn Cinema Native American Film Festival at the University of Idaho has been an annual showcase for Native Cinema on the Palouse since 2003. All films are presented at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre in downtown Moscow, Idaho.
The word Sapaatq'ayn (suh-pot-kine) in the language of the Nimi'ipuu (Nez Perce) means "to display" or "a motion picture."
Sapaatq'ayn Cinema screens new and recently released documentary and feature films made by and about Native peoples with the mission of making contemporary Native experience visible and meaningful to a broad audience. Sapaatq’ayn Cinema is sponsored by the University of Idaho American Indian Studies Program.
UI Vandal Nation Drum
UI Native American Student Association
Roger Vielle - Blackfeet elder / UI instructor
MTV’s docu-series Rebel Music takes a look at populations around the world who are currently using music to voice messages that the world needs to hear. The premiere episode focuses on young Native North Americans using rap and pop to empower their generation to fight for their people and their land.
The issues facing Native American reservations are many, including the decimation of their land, loss of their culture, rampant drug and alcohol abuse—and, most troublingly, alarmingly high rates of sexual violence, suicide and murder. The population’s suicide rate is four times that of the national average; rates of reported domestic abuse and rapes are 2.5 times greater; and there are thousands of missing or murdered indigenous women whose disappearances or deaths were never investigated.
Rebel Music: Native America brings these crucial issues to light—but equally important is how change-makers in the community are addressing these problems with music and activism.
From Sundance film festival 2015, Chloe Zhao’s film is a low key portrait of life on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Songs is a minimalist and poetic slice-of-life story of a brother and sister whose lives change when their absentee cowboy father dies suddenly, prompting Johnny to leave the reservation to head to Los Angeles. With Irene Bedard as their mother.
Sapaatq’ayn has screened Seminole/Creek director Sterlin Harjo’s feature films Goodnight Irene (2005), Four Sheets to the Wind (2007) and Barking Water (2009).
Now Harjo has created a personal and fascinating documentary about the mysterious disappearance of his grandfather, interwoven with the story of the Muscogee Creeks’ adaptation of Christian hymns, in particular, “This May Be the Last,” which was recorded by The Staples Singers and The Rolling Stones. Tracing a heartfelt journey, Harjo interweaves the tale of his grandfather’s mysterious death in 1962 with the rich history of the powerful hymns that have united Native American communities in time of worship, joy, tragedy, and hope. By investigating the stories of these songs, this illuminating film takes us on an epic tour as we travel through Southeast America, the deep South, and as far away as the Scottish Highlands.
Navajo filmmaker Sidney Freeland, director of the short film Hoverboard, developed her full length feature Drunktown’s Finest at the Sundance Director’s Lab—it premiered at Sundance 2014 and was released in 2015. The film’s title comes from slang for her hometown of Gallup, New Mexico, and pulls from her own experience as a transgender woman growing up on the Navajo Reservation. Yet the stories Freeland tells are relatable, about characters struggling to find their identity—ethically, spiritually, and sexually: three young Native Americans - an adopted Christian girl, a rebellious father-to-be, and a promiscuous transsexual - strive to escape the hardships of life on an Indian reservation. Nizhoni was adopted and raised as a Christian by a white family, transsexual Felixxia dreams of becoming a model, and Sickboy is headed to basic training so he can take care of his soon-to-be-born child.
SAPAATQ'AYN CINEMA NATIVE AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL is produced by Jan Johnson, faculty member of the University of Idaho English Department.
For submission information, contact:
Dr. Jan Johnson
American Indian Studies/English
University of Idaho
Moscow, ID 83844-1102