PARK CITY, Utah Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
(Blackfoot/Sámi) from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
is the 2018 recipient of the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowshipan
annual fellowship named in honor of the late Maori filmmaker Merata
Mita (1942-2010). The announcement was delivered today at the 2018
Sundance Film Festival.
For the third consecutive year, Sundance Institute has identified
an Indigenous filmmaker from a global pool of nominees to award
a cash grant and provide a year-long continuum of support with activities
including a trip to the Sundance Film Festival, access to strategic
and creative services offered by Sundance Institute artist programs,
and mentorship opportunities.
Tailfeathers is a filmmaker, writer, and actor. She has a bachelor's
degree from the University of British Columbia in First Nations
and Indigenous Studies with a Minor in Women's and Gender Studies.
Her award-winning works are often community-focused and rooted in
Tailfeathers is a recipient of the Vancouver Mayor's Arts Award
and a Kodak Image Award for her work as an emerging filmmaker and
a Canadian Screen Award for her performance in On the Farm. Her
short documentary, Bihtto (2014) was included in the TIFF
Top Ten Canadian Shorts and was also nominated for a Canadian Screen
Award and a Leo Award for Best Short Documentary. Bihtto also
won the grand jury prize at the Seattle International Film Festival
for Best Short Documentary. Most recently, she directed a feature-length
documentary, cesna?em: the city before the cityin collaboration
with the Musqueam First Nationwhich premiered at the 2017
Vancouver International Film Festival.
Tailfeathers is currently directing a feature-length documentary
about the opiate crisis and addiction in her home community of Kainai
First Nation (Blood Reserve). She is also in pre-production on a
narrative-feature, which she is co-writing and co-directing with
Kathleen Hepburn. Tailfeathers is an alumna of the Berlinale Talent
Lab, the Sámi Film Institute's Indigenous Film Fellowship,
and a recipient of the Hot Docs Cross Currents Fund.
Now in its third consecutive award year, this Fellowship
pays tribute to the immense artistic contributions and memory of
our beloved colleague and friend Merata Mita, who was an activist,
documentarian and the first and only Maori woman to write and direct
a dramatic feature, said N. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero
Apache), director, Sundance Institute Native American and Indigenous
Film Program. The Merata Mita Fellowship reflects Sundance
Institute's ongoing commitment to supporting Indigenous artists
globally. The selection of Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
as the 2018 recipient exemplifies the creative work and the efforts
that Merata championed throughout her life.
Merata Mita (Ngai te Rangi/Ngati Pikiao) was New Zealand's first
Indigenous female filmmaker. She served as an advisor and artistic
director of the Sundance Institute Native Lab from 2000 to 2009,
where she championed emerging Indigenous talent. The Fellowship
is supported by the Consulate General of Canada, Indigenous Media
Initiatives, Anonymous, Fenton Bailey and Billy Luther (Diné/Hopi/Laguna
Pueblo), and Sarah Luther (Diné).
Sundance Institute's Native American and Indigenous Film Program
champions Native American and Indigenous independent storytelling
artists through residency Labs, Fellowships, public programming,
and a year-round continuum of creative, financial, and tactical
support. The Program conducts outreach and education to identify
a new generation of Native and Indigenous voices, connecting them
with opportunities to develop their storytelling projects and bringing
them and their work back to Native lands. At its core, the Program
seeks to inspire self-determination among Native filmmakers and
communities by centering Native people in telling their own stories.
About Toyacoyah Brown
Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation,
currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism
from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from
the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the
Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you
can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling
up with a good book.