Lights, Cameras, and Indigenous Action: How Indigenous Filmmakers Are Reclaiming Their Identities in Film

Aliyah Grant, Jocelyn Lieu, Global College, Long Island University, 1 University Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Commonly, Indigenous peoples in narrative films made by non-Indigenous people are misrepresented in stereotypical ways. This is because these films are usually made without consideration for Indigenous standpoints. Indigenous filmmakers are now positioning themselves behind the camera to speak back to those representations, and through the production of documentaries, horror films, and narrative films, they are providing insight into authentic Indigenous identities while also providing opportunities for decolonization within the film industry itself. This study aims to examine the extent to which Indigenous peoples exert agency over creating their own Indigenous film pieces in response to homogenizing media representations. Data was obtained over a three month period through interviews with Indigenous filmmakers and film producers, narrative analysis of films and documentaries made by Indigenous peoples, and narrative analysis of films including Indigenous characters and themes but produced by non-indigenous filmmakers. The implications of this study’s findings are that increased Indigenous involvement in film development offers opportunity for communal healing and more authentic portrayals of Indigenous experiences. Despite this, Indigenous creatives often face the barriers of having their work disregarded by mainstream society because they dispel common misconceptions about Indigeneity, pigeonholing of their projects by non-indigenous producers, and insufficient funding, all of which result in a scarcity of Indigenous content and filmmakers in the mainstream film industry.

Keywords: Indigenous representation, Indigenous filmmaking, narrative construction, historical representations, Indigeneity, decolonization, Settler-Colonial, Marginalized rights

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Aliyah Grant

Institution: Long Island University

Type: Poster

Subject: Film/Photography Studies

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 7
Date/Time: Tue 3:30pm-4:30pm
Session Number: 5047