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Subject: Film Festival Reveal to Survive
 
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                             Film Festival
 
                           Reveal to Survive
                  Indigenous People and Western Media
 
 
 
      In the fall of 1993, the United Nations' International Year of
the Indigenous Peoples, there will be a series of events in the city
of Amsterdam which will call attention to the situation of indigenous
people worldwide. These events will have as a common title: 'Stemmen
van de Aarde, de Wereld van Inheemse Volken' (Voices of the Earth, the
World of Indigenous People). There will be a congress on the concept
of self-determination, an exhibition on indigenous worldviews, a big
manifestation with indigenous music, poetry and theatre, and a film
festival. The co-ordinating institution is the Dutch Center for
indigenous People (NCIV). The NCIV has asked ReRun productions to
organize a film festival which will last six days on the subject of
the confrontation between indigenous people and Western filmmakers.
 
      The theme of the film festival might be summarized as follows.
ReRun wants to inform the public about the possible unexpected, secon-
dary effects of film documentaries and movies on the indigenous people
that are portrayed. In many movies in which indigenous people play a
part or are portrayed, existing stereotypical images are perpetuated
and sometimes enhanced. Recently, however, there seems to be some
change: Hollywood started producing movies with the 'real' story of
the cultures and struggles of native peoples. In films like Dances
with Wolves and Thunderheart, American Indian leaders play are part of
the cast and express, through their appearance, their approval of the
message of the film. Yet, this new cinematic interest in indigenous
peoples' culture and history has unforeseen effects like a 'Indian
hype' in New Age circles. It seems that old stereotypes are replaced
by new.
 
      Of many documentary films on indigenous people, the primary goal
is to make known to the outside world the critical circumstances in
which these people find themselves. The purpose is often to evoke
sympathy for their plight, or to influence policy makers who, through
their decisions, are in a position to influence the situation of these
people. With their backs to the wall, indigenous people invite or
allow camera teams to film their cultural expressions, their elders,
their sacred objects. Many times the penetration of the camera, even
by well intentioned and informed filmmakers, has disastrous consequen-
ces for the people portrayed. For example, one part of a tribe is
pitted against another, because the same indigenous mediagenic spokes-
persons are interviewed time and again by subsequent filmteams, or the
sacredness of ritual objects or ceremonies is jeopardized through the
revealing and exhibition to the eyes of (uninitiated!) audiences thou-
sands of miles away.
 
      But is there a choice? If the outside world does not hear of
what is going on in some remote part of the globe - the human rights
violations, the pollution through mining, the loss of hunting ground
as a result of logging - these developments might go on unquestioned
and another indigenous people might 'disappear' from the world. In
many respects it seems like a Faustian bargain: in order to survive,
indigenous people have to sell their soul to the 'devil', i.e. the
media. To many indigenous persons this is quite literally the case. It
is against the Hopi religion, for example, to allow ceremonies and
power objects to be photographed. Hopi elders feel that to film or
photograph these things "steals their aura". To expose their ceremo-
nies to people who have not been trained to understand them would
undermine the meaning of the ceremonies.
 
      The film festival will consist of several units, divided accor-
ding to subject and geographical region. As the planning is in its
initial stage, these divisions are still arbitrary. However, most
likely there will be at least units on the American Southwest, on the
Bushmen in Southern Africa, on the Papuans in West-Papua and Papua New
Guinea, the Aborigines in Australia, and on Siberia. These units will
be introduced by indigenous representatives and indigenous and non-
indigenous filmmakers and media-sociologists. At the end of the
festival there will be a panel discussion in front of a large audien-
ce.
 
      We would welcome any suggestions you might have as to speakers,
movies, film documentaries, which would be meaningful to hear or to
show at the festival. Please provide us with background material such
as contents of the films, reviews, comments of indigenous people, etc.
Also practical information such addresses for renting and shipping the
films or videos will be extremely useful. Please feel free to fax us
information at + 31 20 66 52 818 attn. ReRun, or to call us at +31 20
66 85 723 (Jan van Boeckel). Catalogues and other mail can be sent to
ReRun Produkties, Postbus 43021, 1009 ZA Amsterdam. We can be reached
by E-mail through the Dutch Innu Support Group: [log in to unmask]
 
      Thank you for your time and interest.
 
      Yours truly,
 
 
      Jan van Boeckel
      co-ordinator Film Festival 1993 for ReRun Produkties. fall of 1993, the
 United Nations' International Year of
the Indigenous Peoples, there will be a series of events in the city
of Amsterdam which will call attention to the situation of indigenous
people worldwide. These events will have as a common title: 'Stemmen
van de Aarde, de Wereld van Inheemse Volken' (Voices of the Earth, the
World of Indigenous People). There will be a congress on the concept
of self-determination, an exhibition on indigenous worldviews, a big
manifestation with indigenous music, poetry and theatre, and a film
festival. The co-ordinating institution is the Dutch Center for
indigenous People (NCIV). The NCIV has asked ReRun productions to
organize a film festival which will last six days on the subject of
the confrontation between indigenous people and Western filmmakers.
 
      The theme of the film festiv