Everett Osceola was awarded a $50,000 grant Nov. 28 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s 2016 Knight Arts Challenge. The funds will be used for the N8tive Reel Cinema Festival, the first Native American film festival in the southeastern U.S.
Osceola’s project was chosen from nearly 1,000 entries. The foundation awarded $2.78 million to the 44 winning projects, which were submitted by individuals and small organizations from Key West to West Palm Beach.
The N8tive Reel Cinema Festival was recognized for highlighting the work and culture of Indigenous people through film.
“It’s a really big honor to win, but now we have to step it up even more,” Osceola said. “I’ve got to keep pushing.”
Winners had a lot in common and brought art to diverse groups, such as writing classes for underprivileged youth, spoken word/theater performed by veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and one that turns melted guns and bullet casings into musical instruments.
“It was like being in your element,” Osceola said. “It was all about bringing more positivity and light to people who have been hidden under the rug. Basically, we’re all shedding light but using an artistic component to do that.”
The festival debuted Feb. 5 during Tribal Fair at the Hollywood Seminole Hard Rock. About 400 film fans watched three short films by filmmaker Steven Paul Judd, one of which was co-produced by Osceola and Gordon Wareham.
Osceola also partnered with April Kirk, executive director of the Historic Stranahan House Museum in Fort Lauderdale. In 2014, Osceola and the museum hosted a Seminole Cinema Night to showcase Native American talent, including the 1961 film “The Exiles”, which documented a group of young Native Americans who left their reservations to live in Los Angeles.
Now serving on its Board of Directors, Osceola has been working with Stranahan House for more than a decade to promote Seminole history and culture through events at the museum.
The foundation began in 1940 as an education fund, but has evolved to support quality journalism and media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. It partners with artists and organizations that reflect the diversity and identity of the community. The foundation’s website states that the arts are important catalysts for public dialogue and problem-solving and that such shared cultural experiences often build people’s connections to each other and to their communities.
The next N8tive Reel Cinema Festival will take place during Tribal Fair and Pow Wow Feb. 10-11, 2017 at Paradise Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. The lineup of films and artists will be announced in January.
Budding or experienced filmmakers may submit short films for inclusion in the festival. All submissions must have an Indigenous or Native American component such as culture, language or history and be five to 10 minutes long. Deadline for submission is Jan. 13 and those selected will be announced Jan. 23. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 954-393-7757 or visit the Native Reel Cinema Facebook page.