2011 VisionMaker Film Festival Results

2011 VisionMaker Film Festival Results

Georgiana Lee, a member of the Diné (Navajo) tribe in Arizona, has been the organization’s Assistant Director since 2009.

Date Posted: 
2012-04-13 00:00

Blog Series:


The fourth biennial VisionMaker Film Festival was held September 30 through October 6, 2011, with screenings at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Mary Riepma Ross Media Arts Center, Sheldon Art Museum, NET Television, Film Streams (Omaha, Neb.) and Merryman Performing Arts Center (Kearney, Neb.) with the help of the following funders and supporters: Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraska Humanities Council, NET Television, Lincoln Journal Star, Southeast Nebraska Native American Coalition (SENNAC), University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO), Creighton University, Southeast Community College (SCC), University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) and the Nebraska Department of Education.

The Sheldon Art Museum featured GRAB, a new Vision Maker Media documentary and Official Selection in the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, with filmmaker Billy Luther (Navajo/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo). The event was sponsored by Creighton University. Film Streams, in collaboration with UNO's Native American Studies Program, featured a free screening of Reel Injun followed by a Q&A with Native actor Gary Farmer (Cayuga). The 2011 Mary Riepma Ross Award honored Frank Blythe (Eastern Band of Cherokee/Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota), founder of Vision Maker Media, at the opening night reception of the VisionMaker Film Festival.

With the help of nationally recognized media makers to help shape the festival, the curatorial team helped the Festival showcase 37 Native film and video projects. The Festival aggregated and screened the best of not only Public Television productions, but feature-length and short films as well. The curatorial team included Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho), award-winning independent filmmaker, director and producer; Danny Lee Ladely, director of the Mary Riempa Ross Media Arts Center; Dustin Owl Johnson (Saginaw Chippewa) coordinator for Native American and Indigenous programs for the Sundance Institute; and Shirley K. Sneve (Rosebud Sioux), executive director of Vision Maker Media.

With the help of an eight-member Local Development Committee, Vision Maker Media was able to bring seven Native filmmakers to screen their documentaries along with workshops at local universities, schools and museums.

Michelle Kosmicki, research manager for NET Television, coordinated Vision Maker Media's evaluation of the Festival. Written surveys were created and distributed at screenings and workshops. Kosmicki designed an evaluation process that involved all participants, such as students, teachers and parents. Surveys were used as part of the assessment. A total of 434 post-screening surveys were completed.

Film Festival participants were generally female, with 51.5% reporting their gender as "female," 48.0% reporting their gender as "male" and 0.5% reporting their gender as "other." The age of Film Festival participants were calculated from year of birth: 25.6% "age 50 to 64"; 18.0% "age 35 to 49"; 15.2% "age 18 to 24"; 14.5% "age 17 and younger"; 12.0% "age 65 and older"; 11.1% "age 25 to 34"; and 3.7% did not give their year of birth. The vast majority of participants were from Nebraska (85.0%). Eleven other states represented 9.7% of participants. A small percentage of participants did not provide their zip code (5.3%). The final question on the survey asked all participants if they would attend more screenings. An overwhelming majority indicated "yes" (57.4%), with 3.0% indicating "no," 34.3% indicating "unsure," and 5.3% chose not to respond.

One thousand people visited the Film Festival website during the course of the event. There were over 250 tweets about the 2011 VisionMaker Film Festival from over 50 different Twitter handles. There was increased engagement around our social media channels during the Film Festival, but not as much as we would have liked. Lessons-learned during and since the Film Festival will allow for more engagement via social media during our next Film Festival.

In our evaluation efforts, we measured the effect of marketing collateral. The largest percentage indicated that "Word-of-Mouth" (27.0%) was the most common marketing tool followed by "Other" (24.6%) and "Email Announcements" at 18.4%.

We absolutely feel that the Festival had a positive impact on the community by promoting Native American culture, providing educational opportunities that benefited teachers, students and the general public in the community, providing an opportunity for the Native American community to interact with positive Native American role models, and providing an opportunity to educate non-Native Americans in Nebraska about the contributions Native Americans have had on Nebraska's rich and diverse history. Planning is underway for the 2013 VisionMaker Film Festival.

Our audience was asked what the film that they watched meant to them. Here are just a few responses worth sharing:

• The struggle to reclaim cultural identity in the face of adversity, institutionalized injustices, and discrimination. The film also proposed and advocated our responsibility to promote the truth, correct past injustices and to uphold the sacred cultural values.

• An awareness of stereotypes and how we need to break down those stereotypes so our children know the true story.

• An introduction to a subject I was otherwise quite ignorant about.

• As a young Indigenous filmmaker, this inspired me to tell my stories.

• I’m glad [that] I brought my eight-year-old daughter. I know that she was exposed to much needed information.

• I need to work hard so I can go to college. College is important.

• I wish more teenagers and parents could see this film.

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