Filmmakers and environmental advocates from around the region and nation will converge in Fargo on April 21-23 at the historic Fargo Theatre for the 2022 North Dakota Environmental Rights Film Festival. The film lineup features 21 films from 9 countries, including 2 World premieres, 9 U.S. premieres, and seven regional premieres. Over 95% of the screenings held in the exhibition are selected from the festival’s open call, which drew 87 submissions from 23 countries. The festival will feature the voices of fifteen filmmakers and environmental advocates in three community conversations scheduled throughout the festival. A special online encore presentation of the festival will take place April 23-May 1 via the festival’s virtual platform.
The first community conversation will take place on Thursday, April 21 at 7 p.m. following the screening of the LIVING IN THE TIME OF DYING. The documentary feature is an unflinching look at what it means to be living in the midst of climate catastrophe and finding purpose and meaning within it. Derrick Bratten of Braaten Law Firm, an organization that advocates and fights for farmers, ranchers, and other individuals, and Martin Fredricks, founder and Executive Director of the Knights of Climate Covenant, will discuss the current and pending impacts of climate change on North Dakotans, and what steps need to be taken to today to curb their impacts.
The second community conversation will take place on Earth Day, Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m. following the screening of the film WARRIOR WOMEN. WARRIOR WOMEN is the story of mothers and daughters fighting for Native rights in the American Indian Movement of the 1970s. The film unveils not only a female perspective of history but also examines the impact political struggles have on the children who bear witness. The film features the story of Madonna Thunder Hawk, one such AIM leader who shaped a kindred group of activists’ children – including her daughter Marcella Gilbert – into the “We Will Remember” Survival School as a Native alternative to government-run education. Together, Madonna and Marcy fought for Native rights in an environment that made them more comrades than mother-daughter. Today, with Marcy now a mother herself, both are still at the forefront of Native issues, fighting against the environmental devastation of the Dakota Access Pipeline and for Indigenous cultural values. Through a circular Indigenous style of storytelling, this film explores what it means to navigate a movement and motherhood and how activist legacies are passed down and transformed from generation to generation in the context of colonizing government that meets Native resistance with violence. Following the film, host Gina Peltier of Honor the Earth will be joined by the film’s co-director, Dr. Elizabeth Castle, and the film’s protagonists Madonna Thunder Hawk and Marcella Gilbert for a discussion about their work.
The third community conversation will take place on Saturday, April 23 at 7 p.m. following the regional premiere of the film OYATE. In the wake of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, Indigenous people across the nation are using their newfound platform to shed light on the wide array of injustices committed against them in an effort to wake up the world and embark upon the process of decolonization. Following key figureheads of the #NODAPL movement, OYATE weaves together the story of colonization and the battle for decolonization that continues after the news cameras have stopped rolling. Joe Williams, Director of Native American Programs at the Plains Art Museum, will lead a discussion with Brandon Jackson and Emil Benjamin, co-directors of the film, Jennifer Martel, producer and story coordinator for the film, and special guests Phyllis Young, Ruth Buffalo, and Stuart James, whose voices are featured in the film.
Also joining the festival will be filmmaker Loren Waters. Waters will be on hand for a screening of her film Restoring Néške’emāne, winner of the 2022 Best Documentary Short for the festival. she will participate in a Q&A following the screening of her film. Waters is a filmmaker, photographer, and artist focusing on the intersection of film, Indigenous storytelling, and the environment. She’s a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe. Currently, Waters works as the background casting director for the hit television series, Reservation Dogs.
Kalpna Singh-Chitnis will join the festival on opening night following the regional premiere of her award-winning short experimental film, THE TREE. Following the screening, she will participate in a Q&A about her film. The film draws attention to environmental concerns, such as deforestation and its effects on wildlife and our ecosystem.
Individual tickets for the festival are $10. Three All-Access Passes are also available, providing access to all theatrical screenings, all online screenings, or both. Tickets and passes may be purchased at the door or in advance via the festival’s online box office at www.nderff.org. Free day passes to the festival are also available through The Indigenous Association.
Organized by the non-partisan non-profit The Human Family, the mission of the North Dakota Human Environmental Rights Film Festival is to educate, engage, and facilitate discussion around local and worldwide environmental rights, sustainability, conservation, and climate change topics through the work of filmmakers and artists. Through these stories, the festival explores the deep interconnection between the environment and human rights.