American Indian Film Festival

Last updated
American Indian Film Festival
Location San Francisco, California, U.S.
Festival dateNovember

The American Indian Film Festival is an annual non-profit film festival in San Francisco, California, United States. It is the world's oldest venue dedicated solely to Native American/First Nations films and prepared the way for the 1979 formation of the American Indian Film Institute.


According to the Institute, [1] the Festival was first presented in Seattle, Washington in 1975 and moved in 1977 to San Francisco, where it remains today. In 1979, the Festival was incorporated.

Over 3,100 films have been screened from Native American/First Nations communities in the U.S. and Canada, and the festival includes events such as film screenings, panel discussions, an awards ceremony and networking events. [2]

This festival is not to be confused by the Native American Film and Video Festival, which was founded in 1979.


Recent festival winners include: [3]

Best Films


1987 Loyalties William Johnston and Ronald Lillie
1988 Journey to Spirit Island Bruce D. Clark and Rodger Spero
1989 Powwow Highway Jan Weiringa


1990 Dances With Wolves Jim Wilson and Kevin Costner
1992 Incident at Oglala Arthur Chobanian
1993 Medicine River Barbara Allinson, John Danylkiw and Arvi Liimatainen
1994 Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee Fred Berner
1995 Dance Me Outside Brian Dennis
1996 Grand Avenue Tony To
1998 Smoke Signals Larry Estes
1999Unbowed Lisa Karadjian and Nanci Rossov


2000Backroads Shirley Cheechoo, Phyllis Ellis and Christine K. Walker
2001 The Doe Boy Chris Eyre and Anthony Vozza
2002 Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner Paul Apak Angilirq, Norman Cohn, Zacharias Kunuk and Germaine Wong
2003 Dreamkeeper Ron McLeod and Matthew O'Connor
2004Edge of America Chris Eyre and Willy Holtzman
2005 Johnny Tootall Cynthia Chapman and Danielle Prohom Olson
2006 Expiration Date John Forsen and Rick Stevenson
2007 Imprint Chris Eyre and Michael Linn
2008 Before Tomorrow Stephanie Rituit
2009 Barking Water Chad Burris


2010A Windigo Tale Armand Garnet Ruffo
2011 Shouting Secrets Josef Ueli Bollag and Korinna Sehringer
2012 Mesnak Reginald Vollant
2013 Maïna Yves Fortin and Karine Martin
2014 Drunktown's Finest Chad Burris and Mateo Frazier
2015 Mekko Chad Burris and Jasper Zweibel
2016 Before the Streets Chloe Leriche
2017 Wind River Elizabeth A. Bell, Peter Berg, Matthew George, Basil Iwanyk and Wayne L. Rogers
2018 Angelique's Isle Amos Adetuyi, Dave Clement, Michelle Derosier and Floyd Kane
2019 Edge of the Knife Jonathan Frantz


2020 Monkey Beach Loretta Todd, Patti Poskitt, Carla Robinson, Fred Fuchs, Matthew O'Connor, Lisa Richardson

See also

Related Research Articles

Film festival Event with films being shown

A film festival is an organized, extended presentation of films in one or more cinemas or screening venues, usually in a single city or region. Increasingly, film festivals show some films outdoors. Films may be of recent date and, depending upon the festival's focus, can include international and domestic releases. Some festivals focus on a specific film-maker or genre or subject matter. A number of film festivals specialise in short films of a defined maximum length. Film festivals are typically annual events. Some film historians, including Jerry Beck, do not consider film festivals official releases of film.

Danny Glover American actor, film director and political activist

Daniel Lebern Glover is an American actor, film director, and political activist. He is widely known for his lead role as Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon film series. He also had leading roles in the films The Color Purple (1985), To Sleep with Anger (1990), Predator 2 (1990), Angels in the Outfield (1994) and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995). Glover has prominent supporting roles in Silverado (1985), Witness (1985), Saw (2004), Shooter (2007), 2012 (2009), Death at a Funeral (2010), Beyond the Lights (2014), Dirty Grandpa (2016), Sorry to Bother You (2018), and Jumanji: The Next Level (2019). He is an active supporter of various political causes.

Haskell Indian Nations University United States historic place

Haskell Indian Nations University is a federally operated tribal university in Lawrence, Kansas. Founded in 1884 as a residential boarding school for American Indian children, the school has developed as a North Central Association-accredited university that offers both associate and baccalaureate degrees. The college was founded to serve members of federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States.

The San Francisco International Film Festival, organized by the San Francisco Film Society, is held each spring for two weeks, presenting around 200 films from over 50 countries. The festival highlights current trends in international film and video production with an emphasis on work that has not yet secured U.S. distribution. In 2009, it served around 82,000 patrons, with screenings held in San Francisco and Berkeley.

Raven Chacon Diné-American composer and artist

Raven Chacon is a Diné artist known as a composer of chamber music, as well as a solo performer of noise music. He was born in Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, Arizona, United States).

Robbie Basho was an American acoustic guitarist, pianist and singer.

Bay Area Sex Worker Advocacy Network (BAYSWAN), is a non-profit organization in the San Francisco Bay Area which works to improve working conditions, increase benefits, and eliminate discrimination on behalf of individuals working within both legal and criminalized adult entertainment industries. The organization provides advice and information to social service, policy reformers, media outlets, politicians, including the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution and Commission on the Status of Women (COSW), and law enforcement agencies dealing with sex workers.

Phyllis Grant is a Mi’gmaq artist from Pabineau First Nation, New Brunswick, Canada.

James Luna

James Luna was a Payómkawichum, Ipi, and Mexican-American performance artist, photographer and multimedia installation artist. His work is best known for challenging the ways in which conventional museum exhibitions depict Native Americans. With recurring themes of multiculturalism, alcoholism, and colonialism, his work was often comedic and theatrical in nature. In 2017 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Sundance Institute American non-profit organisation

Sundance Institute is a non-profit organization founded by Robert Redford committed to the growth of independent artists. The institute is driven by its programs that discover and support independent filmmakers, theatre artists and composers from all over the world. At the core of the programs is the goal to introduce audiences to the artists' new work, aided by the institute's labs, granting and mentorship programs that take place throughout the year in the United States and internationally.

The imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival is the world's largest Indigenous film and media arts festival, held annually in Toronto in the month of October. The festival focuses on the film, video, radio, and new media work of Indigenous, Aboriginal and First Peoples from around the world. The festival includes screenings, parties, panel discussions, and cultural events.

<i>How People Got Fire</i>

How People Got Fire is a short, poetic animated film from the Yukon.

<i>Older than America</i>

Older than America is 2008 American suspense drama film directed by Georgina Lightning and starring Adam Beach, Wes Studi, Tantoo Cardinal, Georgina Lightning and Bradley Cooper. The film explores the devastating personal and cultural effects of the American Indian boarding schools on the members of a Native American family in Minnesota.

Shelley Niro is a Mohawk filmmaker and visual artist from New York and Ontario. She is known for her photographs using herself and female family members cast in contemporary positions to challenge the stereotypes and clichés of Native American women.

Suzi Yoonessi is an Iranian-American filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. She wrote and directed the award-winning feature film Dear Lemon Lima, and directed the Duplass Brothers film Unlovable and Daphne and Velma for Warner Brothers. Yoonessi's short films No Shoulder and Dear Lemon Lima are distributed by Shorts International and Vanguard Cinema and her documentary film Vern is distributed by National Film Network and is in the permanent collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

San Diego International Film Festival

The San Diego International Film Festival(SDIFF), held annually in the autumn across two "villages" in the Gaslamp Quarter and La Jolla, is the largest independent film festival in San Diego, California, and is produced by the non-profit San Diego Film Foundation.

Sonia Boileau is a Canadian First Nations filmmaker belonging to the Mohawk Nation of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

<i>Le Dep</i>

Le Dep is a 2015 Canadian psychological drama film directed by Sonia Boileau. The film tells the story of a young Innu woman who is held at gunpoint one night while working at a convenience store in a small First Nations community in rural Quebec. Set in a fictional Innu community, the film's dialogue is mostly in French, with some Innu-aimun. Le Dep is the first First Nations production of Telefilm Canada's Micro-Budget program. The film's world premiere was at the 2015 Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, following which the film played various festivals in Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom and had a theatrical run in Montreal.

Postcommodity, a Southwest Native American Artist collective, was founded in 2007 by Kade Twist and Steve Yazzie Their name refers to the "commodity era" of Native American art trading in the late 1800s and 1900s, with the "post" being in reference to their modern take on traditional Native art forms.


  1. "American Indian Film Institute Overview and History webpage". Archived from the original on 2010-03-29. Retrieved 2010-07-03.
  2. "What We Do". American Indian Film Institute. Archived from the original on 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-04-16.
  3. AIFI at IMDB