Recent Acquisitions - NMAI's Film and Video Center

Highlighting the recent acquisition of the records of the National Museum of the American Indian's Film and Video Center in January 2017.

Native American Film and Video Festival program, November 3-21, 1982. Accession 17-252, Smithsonian

In January of this year, twenty-five cubic feet of records were transferred from the National Museum of the American Indian's (NMAI) Film and Video Center (FVC) at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. These materials document the history of the FVC from its beginnings in 1979 to its activities today. The FVC was dedicated to promoting Native and indigenous filmmaking throughout the Americas and opening up new opportunities for Native film. One of its major programs was the biennial Native American Film + Video Festival (NAFVF), which showcased new works of independent film and videomakers and Native American mediamakers, with a focus on current issues and contemporary life. The Festival ran from 1979 to 2011.

Elizabeth Weatherford, founder and director of FVC, wrote an excellent history of the FVC and its NAFVF in which she recounts how the FVC was born out of a request from the Museum of the American Indian–Heye Foundation (progenitor of NMAI) to produce a film series to go along with an exhibition in Lower Manhattan.

Shared Visions: A Film and Video Series, 1993. Accession 17-252, Smithsonian Institution Archives. In addition to the Festival, another important FVC project was its publication of Native Americans on Film and Video which is a compilation of primarily documentary films made by and about Native Americans. Not only do the volumes contain listings of video tapes and films, including general descriptions, production data, running times, production credits, language of the production, and distribution information; but also sections on special film collections across the country and additional resources.

NMAI continues working to connect audiences to the work of Native Americans in film, bringing contemporary issues and ways of life in Native communities to people through screening feature films, documentaries, experimental films, and short works by indigenous and independent filmmakers.

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