AFI Fest: MEET THE PRESS SHORTS 2: Native Stories

For me, as an avid film person, for a lot of years, I never thought I would have gotten to where I am today within the world of being a ‘critic.’ A few weeks back, I covered the Nashville Film Festival. It was amazing, but today and over the next week, I am tackling one of the biggest festivals of the year, AFI Fest.

So I hope you enjoy this ride along with me as I cover films that range from Short Films to Documentaries to New Auteurs to World Cinema and so much more.

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible

As the epidemic of missing and murdered Indigenous women epidemic affects tribal communities, a group of Blackfeet women tackle the threat head-on by practicing and training in self-defense.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Kristen Lappas and Tom Rinaldi take us into the heart of Blackfeet Reservation in Montana to show us their world and the trouble that faces this community.

On the outside, it looked like another just run of the mill sports documentary, showing compassion, heart, and love.

According to the US Justice Department, Native American women are ten times more likely to be murdered than non-native women. More than one in three has suffered rape, or attempted rape, and more than 80 percent will experience violence at some point in their lives.

To understand that these statistics are real is heartbreaking and sad. You witness Frank Kippe, a former professional boxer who created this boxing club for the people in this community to defend themselves and further prevent more kids from disappearing.

Also, understanding that so many Indigenous women go missing and the word doesn’t spread as much as it does for everyone is sad, and it forces you to ask the question, why?

Lappas and Rinaldi’s storytelling put together with the direction is impactful. It’s an in-depth look while showing you the bad and the upside of a strong community. It’s mesmerizing.

Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible story is tragic, heartfelt, and honest, and it begs the question of what can we do to make this better.

I wouldn’t be shocked if we see this get an Oscar Nomination.

Games of Survival: A Culture Preserved In Ice

The events at the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics — like the Four Man Carry and the Knuckle Hop — won’t be familiar to most Americans in the Lower 48, but they are rooted in traditional Eskimo culture and pure Americana.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

To hear the stories of people trying to achieve their goals is always good to watch, which is more so coming from the top of the country.

I felt connected to the story and the people trying to achieve their goals, but I didn’t feel like this was any different from any other story of this nature.

Oil & Water

Facing imminent takeover of ancestral lands, the women in the Turkana region of Kenya stand up against oil giant Tullow. Despite resistance from the men in their community, they continue to fight for their way of life.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

It’s 2020, and women still have to challenge men for rights. I can’t believe that women still have to deal with this overseas, and it makes you so angry to watch this unfold.

We (the United States) need to stop helping the countries that continue to make women feel lesser than and help those populations with equality.

Another well shot, well written short that tells a story of which that needs to be heard. Job well done, Anjali Nayar.

Jacob is a film critic and co-founder of the Music City Drive-In. He is a member of the Music City Film Critics’ Association and specializes in the awards season. You can find him on Twitter @Tberry57.

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