Cherokee film entered at Cannes Film Festival
By Will Chavez
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – A film shot last year in Tahlequah and the surrounding area made its European premier at the Cannes Film Festival on May 14.
The 15-minute short film, “Stories of the Cherokees,” was shown at the Film De Cannes Short Film Corner and stars Cherokee citizens David Scott, Robert Lewis and Chris Smith. The traditions of Cherokee oral history are highlighted in the film as well as the Cherokee people, culture, language and geographical location.
The film was made to promote tourism for the Cherokee Nation, and the film’s acceptance by the festival shows that mainstream media and festivals are interested in Indian topics, said Kimberlie Gilliland who wrote and produced the film with Andrew Sikora.
The actors in the film speak English and Cherokee as they share stories handed down to them.
“We hope it will bring a global awareness to our vibrant culture and language. We were so fortunate to have had the opportunity to film both native speakers as well as our immersion kids,” Gilliland said. “We shot entirely within the 14-county area. Most people don’t think of the Cherokee Nation and Oklahoma as being a beautiful area. We have been asked constantly where we shot.”
The movie was initially made for the tribe’s new travel plaza in Roland, Okla., which sits at Interstate 40 and State Highway 64 and attracts a number of tourists arriving in Oklahoma along I-40.
“There is a small theater there and CNE (Cherokee Nation Enterprises) asked if we could come up with a short film that would give tourists a taste of our culture and language,” Gilliland said.
She and Sikora received invitations to this year’s Cannes Film Festival but did not attend. She said they are hopeful the film will get noticed by the numerous buyers, distributors, directors and producers, and they are anticipating getting feedback about their film.
“We will be receiving more feedback after the festival is over because that is when people start talking about new projects,” Gilliland added. “It is important to attend festivals like this as it highlights the Nation not just for this project but for others as well.”
Last year’s Short Film Corner at Cannes received entries from more than 80 countries, which equaled 1,800 registered short films. Films entered and accepted will be available online for viewing after the festival, via private and limited access. Films will also be referenced on www.shortfilmcorner.com and in the Short Film Corner’s catalogue.
“Stories of the Cherokees” can be viewed by visiting www.cherokeestories.org and can be purchased at all CN gift shops.
As for future film projects, Gilliland and Sikora are currently in pre-production for a full-length film about Ned Christie, a Cherokee National Council senator who was accused of killing a U.S. deputy marshal in 1887. Christie denied the accusation and was never convicted of the crime. He refused to give himself up and was ambushed and killed by U.S. marshals at his hideout in Adair County in 1892.
“It will be a live action film that will be shot on location in the Cherokee Nation as well as in studio. We will record in both English and Cherokee,” Gilliland said.
Published May 15, 2008 09:52 pm -
Cherokee film makes its way to France
By D.E. Smoot
Phoenix Staff Writer
A Cherokee language film produced by K.A. Gilliland will make its European debut at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.
“Stories of the Cherokees” promoters say the Cannes, France, showing marks the first time a Cherokee language film has premiered at the famed French festival.
The film, which was commissioned for the Cherokee Travel Plaza in Roland in collaboration with Cherokee Nation Enterprises, promotes Cherokee culture and language through the eyes of Cherokee storytellers and actors.
Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Chad Smith said, “Stories of the Cherokees” is “a well-told story and a story that should be told.”
“We need more videos like this to let the public know what Cherokees are like, both in the past as well as today,” Smith said. “Using Cherokee language in the stories is part of our overall initiative to use every technology and opportunity we can find to promote our language.”
Gilliland said the 15-minute high-definition film was inspired by the traditions of Cherokee oral history. The short film, the first of the three originally planned, documents the tribe’s pre-Columbian existence.
The second will document the Cherokee Nation’s removal from the Southeast United States and relocation to the Indian Territories. The third will portray the tribe’s present-day existence.
Gilliland said “Stories of the Cherokees” was completed in December. The film won Best Cultural Film of 2007 in the International Cherokee Film Festival.
“The first festival was local, but after it won, I entered it in two additional festivals,” Gilliland said. “I was just taking a shot in the dark, but we found out two days ago we won the 29th Annual Telly Award and that it would be shown at Cannes.”
Gilliland said the news stunned, then thrilled cast and crew alike. The film, directed by Andrew Sikora, features David Scott, Robert Lewis and Chris Smith, each of whom tell parts of the Cherokee story in three vignettes.
The first, Gilliland said, features Lewis, a traditional storyteller who describes the tribe’s origins and later migrations. Scott “brings memories of a mound-building society to life” in the second vignette. Smith recreates a tale of an “Ancient Warrior” in the third act, which is driven by an original score written for traditional Cherokee instruments.
The short film, Gilliland said, fuses live action shots with two- and three-dimensional animation. “Stories of Cherokees” was filmed at locations within the Cherokee Nation. Production of the second and third films is expected to begin this fall.
The 61st Cannes Film Festival opened Wednesday and continues through May 24.
Reach D.E. Smoot at 684-2903 or firstname.lastname@example.org.