Wheeler Opera House to host Native American film festival in October
The new two-day Shining Mountain Film Festival will showcase 10 new Native American-themed movies at the Wheeler Opera House this autumn, the theater announced Thursday.
Running Oct. 7 and 8, the festival, timed to Indigenous Peoples’ Day, aims to celebrate Native American culture and history. Last year, the city of Aspen — which owns and operates the Wheeler — began officially celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day. The festival will be produced by the Aspen Ute Foundation with support from the city and the Wheeler.
The film series explores activism, spirituality, loss and victory within Native American culture. American Indian filmmakers and guests will appear alongside their documentaries, shorts, and feature films that exhibit the struggles and beauty contained within the Native American culture past and present.
The Shining Mountain Film Festival will kick off Sunday, Oct. 7 with two afternoon sessions. The first session will start at 3:30 p.m. with a blessing by Roland McCook, former Chairman of the Northern Ute Tribe. In this film session, you’ll discover how the Utes’ legacy continues to have an impact in Colorado today in “The Original Coloradans,” produced by Julie Speer, followed by a Q&A session with Roland McCook. Next up will be LaRonn Katchia’s “Awakening” about a grandmother who sends her unwilling grandson to see a Shaman. The final film of session one is “Conspiracy to be Free” by Colter Johnson. This film is the story of Oglala Lakota activist Russell Means, and follows his career from 1970s activism to the entertainment industry in the 2000s. His son, Scott Means, will end the afternoon with a question-and-answer discussion at 5:20 p.m.
Dave Taylor’s “Whitewashed,” a documentary that digs into history to explain generational traumas and shows the resilience of the American Indians will lead into session two that same evening at 6:30 p.m. James Anaquad Kleinert’s “Horse Medicine” will reconnect hearts with the power of the horse and Mother Earth; Kyle Bell’s “Defend the Sacred,” a documentary that attempts to capture the spirit of Indigenous people at Standing Rock will appear next. Appropriately following Bell’s film is James Anaquad Kleinert’s “Standing Rock” about the resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Nina Barbier’s “The Last Battle of Lakota Indians” will continue the evening with a focus on “Healing Camps,” and what happened after Standing Rock. The session concludes with an expert panel of speakers including Dave Taylor, Kyle Bell, Anuk and Phyllis Bald Eagle, Amos Cook, and James Kleinert.
On Monday, Oct. 8 at 6 p.m. “Neither Wolf Nor God”, Steven Lewis Simpson’s film retelling the true story of a white author sucked into a road trip through Native American Country, will debut before a Q&A with the director and family members of the film’s main character, as played by Chief Dave Bald Eagle. Between the film screening and the panel discussion, Native American flute player Moontee Sinquah and hoop dancers will perform. Traditional Indian fry bread will be available outside.
Tickets went on sale Thursday at the Wheeler box office and aspenshowtix.com.