Hundreds attend inaugural Tribal Film Festival during holiday

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
09/11/2015 08:30 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Fellow Cherokee National Treasures, David Comingdeer, left, and Eddie Morrison talk to film goers regarding both Morrison's and Comingdeer's short films that were screened during the inaugural Tribal Film Festival hosted by TribalTV. JAMI MURPHY/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During Cherokee National Holiday there were many events to attend including the inaugural Tribal Film Festival presented by TribalTV. Hundreds attended the event that took place Sept. 4-6 at the Dream Theater in downtown Tahlequah.

The three-day event presented indigenous films ranging from children’s films to horror films along with locally filmed documentaries. More than 40 films were screened during the festival.

“We had hundreds of people who came and went; some for one movie, some for several playing back to back,” said Celia Xavier, film festival founder and creative director. “The feedback was encouraging and positive. From ‘a great way to keep cool’ to ‘Educational’ to ‘how come we never heard about this story.’ And in the case of ‘The Adventures of Josie The Frybread Kid’s series by Mark Williams, ‘refreshing to see movies that wasn’t about the bad stuff.’”

Guests during the event included Chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association Ernest L. Stevens, Jr., Jennifer Henderson, a teacher out of Vinita who brought her Vinita Johnson O’Malley group to screen “Playground of the Native Son” and John Learned from the American Indian Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Cherokee Nation citizen Faye Morrison came to the opening night to watch her husband and fellow Cherokee Nation citizen and artist Eddie Morrison.

“There were lots of things at the silent auction. Verna Bates’ necklace was beautiful. The art pieces went the best, a good fundraiser for the youth group (Student Film Festival),” she said. “I liked watching David Comingdeer make sticks (in ‘Far Beyond the Sunrise’). When the whole stickball team came up, (after their movie, ‘Little Brother of War’) that was just amazing. They filled the whole half of the room.”

Jim Locke wished congratulations to Eddie Morrison and his short film.

“Congratulations to Tahlequah's own, Eddie Morrison for his amazing artistic talent and his consistent involvement in the Cherokee heritage,” he said. “I am a natural weeper and proved it again as I viewed Eddie’s movie (‘A Man’s Legend’) at the Tribal Film Festival. Wow, what a story, what a talent and what a man.”

Xavier said this event she thinks “struck a nerve” for those who attended.

“This is the only film festival in the world that screens only Indigenous films from around the world and only films and its here in Tahlequah,” she said. “Larry Clark and I plan to grow this into an international event as Tahlequah has charm, beauty and a pedestrian friendly Main Street. We envision growing the screening venues outwards, all within walking distance. Next year is already being planned with our Tribal Student Film Festival, which will take place for one day only, possibly in April.”

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