Christian Lee leads the North Dine Youth Committee (NDYC) members into trash pick-up day. 
Photo by Kelly Byars (Choctaw)
New Documentary Reveals Strength, 
Ambition of Today's Native Youth

The 57-minute documentary film, The Mayors of Shiprock, premiered at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center in Shiprock, New Mexico, this month in front of approximately 125 attendees. Every Monday in the small community of Shiprock, young Navajo leaders meet to decide how to help their community. For more than seven years, the North Dine Youth Committee (NDYC) has worked to give youth opportunities to directly make changes within their community. But while the NDYC works to make changes, many members also consider their own futures, commitments to family and the world outside of Shiprock. While they love their community, they also must consider their options both on and off the reservation. 

Filmmaker Ramona Emerson (Navajo) and her husband,  Kelly Byars (Choctaw), the film's producer, made the most of their premiere by presenting earlier in the day to Kirtland and Shiprock high school students interested in pursuing an acting or filmmaking career. Workshops were arranged by the film's early supporters and collaborators: Vision Maker Media (VMM), Capacity Builders and the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center.

Vision Maker Media encourages its filmmakers to collaborate with partners. This means more than finding a partner to fund a film or set up workshops. Partners can suggest new funders to consider, promote the film to their own constituents, and suggest other impactful presentations or workshops that can change minds in Native and non-Native communities. 

"I always tell our filmmakers to find funders and organizations that believe in your film and want to help spread your message," said Georgiana Lee, Vision Maker Media assistant director. "When you find them, it's important to keep them aware of the production status and the production's needs. They are not mind-readers. It's always worth asking for help and assistance."

After the screening, Emerson invited all NDYC committee members who were present to stand on stage and be recognized. A total of 13 NDYC members were recognized with loud applause. Members made an introduction in Navajo and told the audience what they are doing in their lives.

In attendance was Adam J. Begaye, one of the youth committee members profiled in the film. The film chronicles his 2015 election to the Central Consolidated School District Board of Education. When Begaye told the audience he still serves on the board and was recently named Board president, the auditorium erupted with loud applause. Youth committee members in attendance received similar applause as they told the audience how they continue to make a difference in Indian Country and about their hopes for the future of NDYC. The evening event was hopeful, encouraging and uplifting.

"This film is about NDYC and for the Shiprock community," Emerson said. "My hopes are that other communities around the world will adopt their own NDYC and better their communities through the strength and ambition of today's youth."

Film screenings are currently being arranged across the Navajo reservation. You can find local screening information in your area by visiting www.facebook.com/TheMayorsOfShiprock. V isit www.visionmakermedia.org/host-screening to host a screening, to share, empower and engage your family, friends, colleagues and community members. 

The documentary airs on KNME/New Mexico PBS in October, followed by a national broadcast on WORLD Channel in November. WORLD is produced and distributed by WGBH/Boston, American Public Television (APT) and WNET/New York in association with Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) and the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA).
Tuba City and Chinle High School cross-country teams with their 2008 State
trophies in the documentary film 'Racing the Rez.' Photo by Brian Truglio

Producer's First Documentary  Moves Beyond Stereotypes

Pr oducer Brian Truglio believes the 40 Years. 40 Films. 40 Weeks. series is a "one-of-a-kind opportunity to take a wild, rewarding and inspiring ride through 40 years of the best films by and about Native people." Racing the Rezset in the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, follows Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools that put it all on the line for Tribal pride, triumph over adversity and state championship glory. The film moves beyond stereotypes of the past and present as two high school boys' cross country teams--Tuba City and Chinle--compete for the state championship title.

Brian's film  is featured on Vision Maker Media's 40 Years. 40 Films. 40 Weeks.  series during the week of May 2. He answers important questions about his filmmaking experience.

Q.  Why should other producers and filmmakers work with Vision Maker Media?
A. I spent more than two years trying to raise money for Racing the Rez, my first feature documentary, and Vision Maker was the only funder who believed in the film. They helped me make the documentary I wanted to make while guiding me through all of the intimidating legal and contractual complexities. After I completed the film, they helped me understand my best options for distribution. And they continue to help find new outlets and audiences for the film. They are not just a funder, they are a partner, and a mentor.

Q. What aspect of working with Vision Maker Media was the most worthwhile or rewarding?
A. The most rewarding part of working with Vision Maker was the close working relationships I formed while making Racing the Rez. Having people at Vision Maker who were behind the film, understood the challenges I was facing and who I could rely on for guidance was very reassuring. In some cases those relationships became friendships, and I'm thankful to have them as I move forward. 

Q. How does Vision Maker Media provide support to you as a filmmaker?
A. Whenever I had a question, they were just a phone call, email or text away. They patiently answered all my questions and provided spectacular guidance. A great example of their support is the Kickstarter campaign that they encouraged me to launch for additional finishing funds. Vision Maker had success with other campaigns and they gave me invaluable advice for running my own. As a result, I was able to reach and exceed my fundraising goal. Fives years on, Racing the Rez is still building its audience because of their ongoing support.

Q. How do Vision Maker Media films help serve Indian Country?
A. Through Vision Maker films Native people hear their own voices, see their own culture and find themselves reflected in the wide array of American stories that Vision Maker helps bring to the screen. This is a valuable way for those outside Indian Country to learn more about Native life and for those in Indian Country to place themselves in the larger culture that surrounds them. In the difficult and chaotic times that now surround Indian Country, Vision Maker is a vital backer that ensures Native culture is seen and heard.

Q. What advice would you give to filmmakers beginning their careers?
A. Don't hesitate, make your film. Be true to your vision and don't be deterred by rejection. You'll face a lot of it, but eventually you will find your funding and make your film.

Voices of Reason. Stories of Hope. They Begin with You.

Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community on public media. They are especially interested in programs that are relevant, take creative risks, appeal to a national audience and provide a lens to Latino history, culture and issues. 

These programs should also aim to meet the current content priorities of PBS that include but are not limited to: History, Arts, Drama, Science, News and Public Affairs and/or programs that support the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB's) American Graduate by raising awareness of all facets of the high school dropout crisis.

Please send your program concepts and proposals.

2017 Latino Public Broadcasting Public Media Content Fund - Call for Proposals
Deadline: Monday, June 5, 2017 at 5 p.m.

The Public Media Content Fund is an open invitation to independent producers to submit proposals for a program, limited series or short web-based digital video (no longer than 20 minutes, for distribution on PBS.org or another public media web platform) on any subject that relates to or is representative of Latino Americans that is appropriate for public television and/or one of its platforms. LPB funding will average between $5,000 and $100,000 for programs of most genres, including documentary, narrative, performance, mixed genre or digital media. LPB will give priority consideration to funding projects at the production and post-production stage.

All applications must be submitted online at www.pmcf.submittable.com/submit.

For the Public Media Content Fund Guidelines, please visit: http://lpbp.org/public-media-content-fund-guidelines.

For Public Media Content Fund Guidelines FAQ's, please visit: http://lpbp.org/funding-faq/.
Invisible No More: Native Movement Building Summit
Native Americans in Philanthropy is hosting Invisible No More: Native Movement Building, May 6 in Los Angeles, to bring together national and global movements to discuss youth advocacy, narrative change strategies, lessons from Standing Rock, best practices, and other major issues and innovations in Indian Country and across movements. 

This event will also highlight ways in which partners can collaborate and use social capital to support community-led solutions. Invitees are asked to gather to honor the spirituality, resiliency, voices and priorities of Native Americans, especially in such a challenging sociopolitical environment.

Email: events@nativephilanthropy.org or go to:
Job Opportunities
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Media Services Coordinator
Deadline: April 28, 2017
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Deadline: Dec. 31, 2017

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Deadline: June 30, 2017
Event: Dec. 4-9, 2017

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Invisible No More:  Native Movement Building
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Event: May 6, 2017

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The IDA Enterprise Documentary Fund
United States
Deadline: May 26, 2017
Public Media Contact Fund
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Deadline: June 5, 2017
Ford Foundation
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Deadline: Ongoing
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Fellowship and Internship Opportunities
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Producer Newsletter Vol. 11 Issue 4
A list of opportunities for filmmakers to help increase
 the diversity  of the media landscape.