Confab promotes burgeoning sector

The Sami village of Kautokeino, Norway, is getting ready to host the world’s first Indigenous Film Conference, to be attended by a lucky clutch of filmmakers and execs who will congregate in the middle of the Tundra.

Among those expected to descend into the ancestral arctic heartland Oct. 27-29 are N. Bird Runningwater, head of the Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program, U.S. producer Heather Rae (“Frozen River”), Erica Glynn, chief of Screen Australia’s Indigenous unit, and producer Cory Generoux with Canada’s National Film Board.

Besides being praiseworthy, the initiative also seems timely. Indigenous pics have been scoring kudos, including such pics as “The Orator,” directed by Samoan-born Tusi Tamasese, which besides being the first feature filmed entirely in Samoan, is New Zealand’s first submission for the foreign-language Oscar race.

Confab organizer Anne lajla utsi, topper of the Sami film Center, says indigenous peoples have seen enough of romantic ethnographic stories and stereotypical tales made by outsiders. “We want to tell authentic stories from the breathing lives of indigenous people living in contemporary time,” she says.

Besides taking the pulse of indigenous production worldwide, and initiating a global network, one of the purposes of the confab is to prompt funding in Scandinavia for indigenous cinema, modeled on existing funding entities for such films in Australia and Canada.

Attendees will feast on Sami delicacies; watch pics, including the first feature from Greenland, “Nuummioq,” by Otto Rosing and Torben Bech; and attend a “Northern Lights Safari” event.

The three-day confab will be followed by a week-long Indigenous Film Circle lab where 10 first-time helmers from around the globe will work on their projects with producer-mentors, including Zentropa’s Mikael Olsen.

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