The power of the story is rooted deeply in Indigenous and Native cultures around the world. Oral tradition in our communities not only unites us but passes cultural teachings and practices from generation to generation. We understand that the craft of storytelling has the power to shape culture and incite meaningful change. That is why we believe creating a platform for sharing, supporting, and celebrating Indigenous cinema, filmmakers, and artists are key to inspiring actionable change in the industry and our communities. This includes supporting efforts that empower Indigenous voices to be represented in media and entertainment.
Through the Festival, we will explore a diverse spectrum of Indigenous storytelling to strengthen heritage and cultural identity in our communities. With engaging panels and discussions with established and growing indigenous artists, filmmakers, and innovators, we hope to inspire the next generation of vibrant Očhéthi Šakówiŋ leaders and Indigenous storytellers in our communities. Bringing these resources to the Pine Ridge Reservation, we hope to equipped these emerging leaders with the tools they need to succeed and connect them by creating a space to discover, be curious and have dialogue. Furthermore, we envision continuing opportunities of support for these leaders beyond the Festival, whether through year-round workshops, programs, or mentorships.
The Festival is scheduled alongside the Oglala Lakota Nation wačhípi (powwow), rodeo, and fair held annually during the first weekend of August each year on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.
We curate films with unique, inclusive, and diverse Indigenous voices and perspectives. For the past two summers, the Indigenous Film Festival has showcased 32 films and celebrated 27 filmmakers representing 24 tribal nations— introducing the Oglala Lakota Nation and region to a diverse collection of Indigenous-made cinema.
We represent Indigenous, First Peoples, and Native filmmakers, storytellers, and creators from North America, New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and other regions.
MISSION: We celebrate, elevate, and empower Indigenous stories while redefining the narratives of Native peoples, communities, and cultures.
VISION: Supporting the art of diverse Indigenous and Native storytelling has the power to build stronger community, fortify cultural identity, and inspire the next generation of Indigenous filmmakers. We believe creating space for discovery, curiosity, and imagination has the potential to lead to impactful social and systems change.
We want participants to learn something new, feel engaged, and be represented. We want to fill the gap with relevant and authentic Indigenous voices in media and film. We hope our filmmakers feel supported, encouraged, and inspired. We hope audience members take away a sense of cultural strength and dignity, especially our young people.
Final selections will be made by festival and programming staff. Festival awards will be selected by an independent jury.
Awards will be given in the following categories: Feature Narrative Grand Prize, Feature Doc Grand Prize, Short Film Grand Prize, Student or Youth Grand Prize, Audience Award.
All films must be Native, First Peoples, and Indigenous-made. Key members of the creative team must have significant artistic and administrative contributions to the project and be from recognized Indigenous nations. Within the United States, all filmmakers must share their affiliated tribal nation. International Indigenous filmmakers from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, the Pacific Islands, and other regions, must identify from an Indigenous nation within their respective communities.
All genres, narratives, story forms, are accepted and encouraged. We are currently programming films in the following categories: Feature Narrative, Feature Documentary, Short Film or Short Form video, Student or Youth Film. New media film or video projects will be considered and innovative presentations are encouraged. Student Films must be made by students in grades 6-12 with proof of enrollment in an elementary or high school. All students under the age of 18 require permission by a guardian to submit. College or grad students qualify to submit under the Student category with proof of enrollment in a respective film-related program at their university or college. Student or Youth submissions ages are 12-24.
Feature Narrative and Documentary films must be 45 minutes or more in runtime. Short Film or Short Form Video must be no longer than 30 minutes in runtime. Student or Youth Films must be no longer than 15 minutes. All films and projects must have been made within the past 3 years.
Non-English films must have English subtitles.
We have limited programming time and space. Significant care and consideration will be taken for all films submitted through our open submission to ensure an equitable and fair experience.
All rules, terms, guidelines, and awards subject to change.