Beyond Borders Film Festival opens with two days of Native films

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As spring makes it way to the Twin Cities, so will some new films promoting cultural understanding of people across the globe. This is the primary mission of the Beyond Borders Film Festival, which features films and cultural performances with a strong emphasis on cultural heritage. The festival will become a permanent fixture in the Twin Cities’ arts scene, appearing annually.

“My hope for the festival is to use film to bring together people from different communities and cultures, people who would not ordinarily be sitting in the same room together,” says festival founder Cortland Dahl, who divides his time between Minneapolis; Kathmandu, Nepal; and Bodhgaya, India.

“Our aim is to show artistically significant films that also have the power to inform people about the world’s rich cultural and spiritual heritage, about the important issues that are confronting our world, and to inspire them to get involved at a grassroots level.”

From March 25 through March 29, the Beyond Borders Film Festival will showcase a variety of films at the Parkway Theater in South Minneapolis. Beyond Borders Film Festival, presented by the Rimé Foundation, features films and cultural performances to raise awareness of the need for more international cross-cultural understanding, to get the general public involved in cross-cultural exchanges, and to promote local cultural and social organizations.

The five-day festival will open with two days of films and performances by and about Native Americans. The White Earth Urban Community Council will host a drum group, and dancers. Speakers include Ojibwe advocate and writer Winona LaDuke, local film producer Sydney Beane, award-winning Mohawk writer/director Tracey Deer, and Minneapolis filmmaker Missy Whiteman.

The line-up of films include “Native Nations: Standing Together for Civil Rights” in its Twin Cities premiere, by Beane; “Mohawk Girls” and “Club Native,” award-winning documentaries by Deer; and “Older Than America,” a feature-length film by Georgina Lightning.

“Older Than America”, shot in Cloquet, MN, and on the Fond du Lac Reservation, examines the often-traumatic experience of Native American children in boarding schools at the turn of the 20th Century.

“Before Tomorrow” will be kicking off the Beyond Borders Film Festival and has won the best Canadian first feature award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Best Feature Film award at imagineNATIVE 2008, Best Feature Film award at the 33rd Annual American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, Best Feature Film award at Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, and Canada's Best Top Ten from the Toronto International Film Festival Group.

March 27 will feature films spotlighting Buddhist wisdom. These films examine how the ancient wisdom of Buddhism is being applied in an increasingly diverse range of settings.

The festival will continue on March 28 and March 29 with the screening of new, A-list independent films from emerging American directors, as well as new world cinema from countries including India, China, Canada, and Turkey.

Throughout the festival, there will be special programming for children to encourage them to learn about different people and cultures. The children’s film program will run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings and will include a variety of animated film shorts. Thursday and Friday’s kids’ program will include a performance by an Ojibwe storyteller.

The festival runs from March 25-29. Tickets: $10 per screening for adults; $5 per screening for children. For info, see: www.beyondbordersfilmfestival.com. Parkway Theater, 4814 Chicago Ave., Minneapolis. 612-822-3030.

Native Films Schedule:

March 25

• 6:30 pm: Native American drum group and dancers.

• 7:00 pm: Ojibwe activist and writer Winona LaDuke.

• 7:30 pm: Screening of “Before Tomorrow” which depicts the physical and spiritual struggles of an Inuit woman and her grandson.

• 9:15 pm: Introduction by filmmaker Sydney Beane and screening of “Native Nations: Standing Together for Civil Rights” which chronicles American Indian struggles for civil rights and the creation of the National Indian Lutheran Board to raise funds and awareness.

March 26

• 5 pm: Screening of “Mohawk Girls” (directed by Tracey Deer) which presents an insider’s look at life on the Kahnawake Reservation.

• 7 pm: Screening of “Club Native” (directed by Tracey Deer) which investigates both sides of the controversial blood-quantum issue through stories of people from the Kahnawake Reservation.

• 9 pm: Screening of “Older Than America” (directed by Georgina Lightning) which delves into the lasting impact of the cultural genocide and loss of identity that occurred at Native American institutions across the U.S. and Canada.