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Visiting performer, films, workshops put focus on Native American cinema

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DeLanna Studi

A focus on Native American cinema with film screenings and discussions, an introductory workshop to encourage prospective professionals, and a weeklong residency by a prominent Cherokee actor are among the highlights of “Native American Cinema: A New Storytelling Tradition.”

Activities take place at various Green Bay area locations Saturday, March 2, through Friday, March 8. (See bulleted items below for a detailed list of events.)

The collaborative project is co-hosted by UW-Green Bay, the Green Bay Film Festival and a new organization, the local American Indian Film Society being led by members of the Oneida Nation. The project is funded in part by a major grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council’s Greater Green Bay Area Humanities Fund, with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The visiting actor, DeLanna Studi, will arrive in time for activities taking place at the annual Green Bay Film Festival, March 1-3. She will participate in workshop and panel sessions, and be available to talk and work with students and interested community members.

Studi’s film credits include Two Spirits, One Journey, Powwow Dreams, The Only Good Indian, and others. She has also appeared in television productions (Edge of America and Dreamkeeper) and on stage with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Company and the first national Broadway tour of the award-winning play August: Osage County.

Studi will cap her residency with a free program from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Friday, March 8, in the Rose Hall 250 auditorium at UW-Green Bay. Titled “Arts and Advocacy in American Indian Education,” the session featuring Studi will share stories of her upbringing and education in rural Oklahoma, her experiences as a professional performer in film and theatre, and how these experiences have led her to become an advocate for Native issues. As current chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Committee for Native Americans, she will discuss the efforts being made by the Screen Actors Guild and others to create more roles for Native actors, and how now is the time for Native people to tell their own stories.

She tells interviewers that she is gratified that more roles are going to Native people, but says more needs to be done to expand the range of character portrayals while avoiding stereotypes. “We’re working on educating the industry about who we are as a people so that our people can get those roles…and you’re not limited to playing one type of person,” Studi says. “We’re slowly getting there.”

The $10,000 grant from the Wisconsin Humanities Council for “Native American Cinema: A New Storytelling Tradition” was made to UW-Green Bay with the understanding that events would be of a communitywide nature and open to the public, explains the project’s director, Prof. JP Leary, who teaches a UW-Green Bay course on American Indians and Film.

The Green Bay Film Festival had approached Leary last year for support in planning and fundraising to create a track of Native films for the March 2013 festival. Michelle Danforth and Cyndee Sweetland asked him to assist with applying for a  humanities council grant. The focus on American Indian films found another supporter in Prof. David Coury, a Film Festival board member who also directs the Green Bay Film Society and was interested in bringing a full-length Native film to that series. At the same time, educator Norbert Hill of Oneida was looking to establish a Native film society locally. In addition, students at UW-Green Bay active with the Intertribal Student Council were interested in scheduling a follow-up to their successful fall 2012 screening of the film Crooked Arrows.

The strong local interest led Leary, who knew Studi through her work as an actress and advocate, to approach her about a possible residency in Green Bay. Their plans expanded from screenings and discussion sessions to include a local presentation of the SAG workshop, “The Business of Acting.” They’ll also screen one of her films that should be of interest to sports fans.

“With DeLanna’s involvement, it made sense to show a film she has a lead role in,” Leary says, “and the fact that “Edge of America” is a women’s basketball movie showing at UW-Green Bay in March makes it a great choice.”

He said the Tuesday night program in Oneida came about “because Norbert (Hill) and I wanted to showcase those involved with making films, rather than just the films themselves, we decided upon an evening of short films to allow for more time for discussion.”

The schedule of events:

Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m.
Green Bay Film Festival, Oneida Radisson
“Indians of Today”
Short Films:
Selected shorts from the 1491s; Charlie Hill on Richard Pryor
Feature Film: Shouting Secrets
Actress: DeLanna Studi  Actor/Comedian: Charlie Hill (Oneida Nation)
Humanities Panelists:
Prof. Patricia Loew, UW-Madison; Profs. Lisa Poupart and JP Leary, UW-Green Bay
An interesting look at how a group of filmmakers are creating films and internet media to change the face of how Natives are portrayed. Viewing of Shouting Secrets is planned. The film is a portrayal of a Native family today… with a discussion of how does the viewing audience feel about the media that is being produced today.

Sunday, March 3, 1 to 4 p.m.
Green Bay Film Festival, Oneida Radisson
“The Business of Acting: SAG Professional Acting Workshop”
Casting Director:
Rene Haynes, CSA Actors: DeLanna Studi (Cherokee), Chair, and Brian Wescott (Athabascan), Vice Chair, SAG-AFTRA National Native Americans Committee
The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Radio and Television Artists and the Green Bay Film Festival present “The Business of Acting,” a workshop to introduce participants to acting, including preparing headshots and resumes, the casting process, and acting in front of the camera, with coaching by experienced professional directors, casting directors, and actors.

Monday, March 4, 9 a.m. to noon
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Christie Theatre in the University Union
“The Business of Acting: SAG Professional Acting Workshop”
Casting Director:
Rene Haynes, CSA Actors: DeLanna Studi (Cherokee), Chair, and Brian Wescott (Athabascan), Vice Chair, SAG-AFTRA National Native Americans Committee
The Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Radio and Television Artists and UW-Green Bay First Nations Studies Program present “The Business of Acting,” a workshop to introduce participants to acting, including preparing headshots and resumes, the casting process, and acting in front of the camera, with coaching by experienced professional directors, casting directors, and actors.

Monday, March 4, 7 p.m.
University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Christie Theatre in the University Union
Showing of film “Edge of America’ hosted by Intertribal Student Council

Based on a true story, “Edge of America” depicts the journey of a high school women’s basketball team on the Three Nations Reservation from a collection of struggling individuals into a contender and source of community pride. Actor DeLanna Studi (Cherokee), who plays Carla McKinney, will be on hand for a follow-up discussion. Hosted by UW-Green Bay Intertribal Student Council.

Tuesday, March 5, 7 p.m.
American Indian Film Society, at Norbert Hill Center, Oneida
“An Evening of Short Films”

An evening of short films takes place in the Business Committee Chambers at the Norbert Hill Center, Oneida, to kick off the American Indian Film Society. Invited guests and filmmakers including DeLanna Studi (Two Sprits, One Journey” and Powwow Dreams), Chris Powless (Oneida), and Ernie Stevens III (Oneida) will host and help lead the discussion.

Wednesday, March 6, 7 p.m.
Neville Public Museum
Showing of Film “Edge of America” as part of Green Bay Film Society series

Based on a true story, “Edge of America” depicts the journey of a high school women’s basketball team on the Three Nations Reservation from a collection of struggling individuals into a contender and source of community pride. Actor DeLanna Studi (Cherokee), who plays Carla McKinney, will be on hand for a follow-up discussion. Hosted by the Green Bay Film Society.

Friday, March 8, 12:30 to 2 p.m.
UW-Green Bay Rose Hall 250
“Arts and Advocacy in American Indian Education”

Actor DeLanna Studi will share stories of her upbringing and education in rural eastern Oklahoma, her experiences as a professional actor in film and theater, and how these experiences have led her to become an advocate for Native issues. As a performing artist and arts educator, she has used her work as an opportunity to challenge representations of Native people in the media and to shape public responses to them. She will also discuss the joys and difficulties of being an actor navigating the Industry while maintaining a sense of community, culture, gender and humor. As the current chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Committee for Native Americans, she will discuss the efforts being made to create more roles for Native actors, and how now is the time for Native people to tell their own stories. All are welcome.

 

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