Native FilmFest

2017 Native FilmFest

Native FilmFest will be held at Camelot Theatres in central Palm Springs on Thursday, March 2 through Saturday, March 4.

Support of Native FilmFest comes primarily from generous corporate, Tribal government, foundation, and individual sponsors – without whom the festival would not be possible.

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Agua Caliente Cultural Museum founded in 1991, admission to the 2016 festival was free – a special thank you for generous support the community has given our "small-but-mighty" Museum over the past quarter-century.

Eyelongplus_smallerThe cost of offering complimentary tickets this year was underwritten by two members of the Board of Directors who requested that their sponsorship gifts be used for this purpose.The free tickets were required for admission to each screening and were available on a first-come, first-served basis at Camelot Theatres Box Office. Camelot Theatres is located at 2300 East Baristo Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262 (760.325.6565).

The festival is one of the nation's most highly regarded events of its kind featuring the best in films by, about, and starring Native Americans and other Indigenous peoples from around the world. Engaging, entertaining, and enlightening feature films, documentaries, and short films from some of today's premier Native American and Indigenous filmmakers will be followed by informative Q&A sessions. Click here to view the schedule of films that were shown.

Guest Programmer Elizabeth Weatherford is founder and director of the Film and Video Center of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and brings over 30 years of experience with Native films and those who make them.

Richard M. Milanovich, the late Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, was a lover of film and, each year, attended Native FilmFest. The Richard M. Milanovich Award for Distinguished Contributions to Indigenous Film was established in his name to honor those who have distinguished themselves by their meritorious work in Indigenous film. The 2016 Award was presented to Sterlin Harjo (Muscogee Creek andSeminole) at the Opening Night screening of his latest film, Mekko, on Wednesday evening at 8:00.

Sterlin Harjo is a critically acclaimed director. Native FilmFest goers will remember his short film Goodnight Irene and two of his films screened in years past – Barking Waters and Four Sheets to the Wind. In November 2015, at the 40th Anniversary of the American Indian Film Festival, Mekko won Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.

The festival opened on Tuesday evening with Views on Native Film - a panel discussion about trends in Indigenous filmmaking. Elizabeth Weatherford served as panel moderator. Panelists included Sterlin Harjo and Steven Paul Judd.

In addition to an outstanding lineup of films, the 2016 Native FilmFest featured programmatic enhancements that included two sessions of short films, one of which focused on Indigenous Hawaiian people and South Pacific Islanders. Hawaiian traditional dancers of Ka Pã Hula I Mãnã spread the "Aloha Spirit" and the Hawaiian culture through a performance of hula prior to the screening. The festival presented a total of eight screening sessions.

In partnership with Palm Springs Art Museum, the Closing Night Film at 5:00 p.m. was screened in the Annenberg Auditorium at Palm Springs Art Museum and featured Coming to Light: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indians, a documentary directed by Anne Makepeace. Ms. Makepeace was in attendance and participated a Q&A session.

After the Makepeace screening, Palm Springs Art Museum hosted a reception where guests had an opportunity to view a display of Edward Curtis photographs in the exhibition, Edward S. Curtis: One Hundred Masterworks. Curtis prints of Cahuilla Indians were on display. In addition, the Art Museum  showed paintings by Cree artist Kent Monkman whose short films will be presented at Native FilmFest.

On Wednesday through Saturday evening, tasty moderately priced meals and light refreshments were available for purchase in the Camelot Internationale Café.

For other inquiries about the festival, please contact us at 760.833.8169 or

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
wishes to  acknowledge event sponsors
and other contributors for their generous support of the 2016
Native FilmFest


 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians


Helen K. Beamer
 with Princess Abigail K. Kawananakoa
In Honor of the Ka Pa Hula I Mana Hula Ensemble

Mr. & Mrs. Frank Fagan

Michael Hammond, Ph.D.
          & Rebecca M. Hendrickson

Harold B. Matzner

Fred H. Morris, Jr.
In Memory of Elizabeth Pete Monk & Ray L. Patencio, Sr.

MUFG Union Bank, N.A.

Debbie Purnel & Craig Dean/
Anthony & Andrew Purnel with George,
George Eden VI, Lawrence Ethan
& Ambrosia M. Howell
In Memory of Priscilla Patencio Gonzales

San Manuel Band of Mission Indians

Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians/
Spotlight 29 Casino


Dave & Millie Browne

Connie Sharp & Steve Sharp


Barry S. Brokaw

City of Palm Springs

Virginia Siva Gillespie & Andrew Gillespie

Alycia Patencio & Reuben Travis

Myori & Ray L. Patencio, Jr. & son Shane
In Memory of Elizabeth Pete Monk & Ray L. Patencio, Sr.

Joseph A. Roman, Esq.

Spa Resort Casino


San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians


Camelot Theatres / RR Broadcasting

Desert Entertainer

Gay Desert Guide

KVCR Public Broadcasting & First Nations Experience

Lamar Outdoor Advertising

La Prensa Hispana

The Standard

The Sun Runner

Special thanks to Rozene & Ric Supple, Camelot Theatres, and the members of their staff