Filmmaker Sandra Sunrising Osawa, poet/musician Joy Harjo to highlight BCC's American Indian Film Festival on Nov. 5-7

Twenty films by Indigenous directors and a keynote address by award-winning Indigenous film-maker Sandra Sunrising Osawa (Makah) will highlight Bellevue Community College's sixth annual American Indian Film Festival Nov. 5-7.

Also featured will be internationally acclaimed poet and musician Joy Harjo (Mvskoke/Cree Nation), performing songs from her latest CD release, “Winding Through the Milky Way.”

Subtitled “Indigenous Women in Film,” the festival will be held in Bellevue Community College's Carlson Theatre, located in Building E on the south courtyard of BCC's main campus (3000 Landerholm Circle S.E., Bellevue, at the intersection of S.E. 28th St. and 148th Ave. S.E.).

In most cases, the director or producer of the featured films will be present to discuss their work.

All festival events are free and open to the public, with a $10 donation suggested.

Osawa's presentation begins at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 7 and will be followed by screening of her award-winning 2007 film, “Maria Tallchief.” Osawa will respond to audience questions afterward.

Harjo will perform just prior to Osawa's address, at 4:15 p.m. Nov. 7.

Potluck dinners at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 6, and at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, will give festival-goers an opportunity to meet the artists and speakers. The dinners will be held in room 265 of the college's A Building, adjacent to Carlson Theatre.

A full schedule of festival activities is available online at

The American Indian Film Festival is designed to introduce the campus and surrounding community to works created by and with Indigenous artists.

The festival was founded in 2003 by Phil Lucas, an Emmy-winning, internationally known Choctaw Indian film-maker, to showcase the works of top Indigenous artists and provide a forum for discussing issues affecting contemporary American Indians.

Lucas, who taught film-making at Bellevue Community College, died in February 2007. His son Jessy will lead the opening ceremonies each day of the festival.

Osawa became the first Indigenous woman to produce for commercial television when her first major work - the 10-part series, “The Indigenous,” aired on NBC-affiliate KNBC-TV in Los Angeles 30 years ago.

Since then six of her documentaries have been broadcast on PBS, and many are still studied in college classes across the U.S.

Osawa also is known for leading the movement to cast American Indians into key acting roles in the telling of their own stories.

A resident of Seattle, Osawa has received numerous awards and has taught at Evergreen State College and at Seattle Central Community College.

Her latest film, “Maria Tallchief,” which won Best Documentary Feature at the 2008 Fargo Film Festival, relates the previously untold story of the life and artistry of a Indigenous woman who rose to international prominence as a Prima Ballerina with the New York City Ballet.

Bellevue Community College's American Indian Film Festival is presented by faculty, staff and students of Bellevue Community College, with media sponsorship by BCC's KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio.

Harjo has won international acclaim for her music, poetry and screenwriting.

She has published seven books of poetry, including her most recent, “How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems.”

Her poetry awards include a Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Harjo's first music CD, “Letter from the End of the 20th Century,” released in 1997, received the Outstanding Musical Achievement Award from the First Americans in the Arts. Numerous other music awards have followed since.

Harjo has performed internationally, from the Arctic Circle in Norway at the Riddu Riddu Festival, to Madras, India, to the Ford Theater in Los Angeles. She was featured on Bill Moyers' “The Power of the Word” series, and will be featured this spring on a new Garrison Keillor show.

An accomplished screenwriter, Harjo recently co-wrote the script for “A Thousand Roads,” a film being produced for ongoing presentation at the National Museum of the American Indian.

Harjo's other accomplishments include co-producer and talent of the music video, “Eagle Song,” which was nominated for best music video at the American Indian Film Festival 2002, and service on the National Council on the Arts.

She was also the narrator for the Turner's “The Native Americans” series and the narrator for the Emmy award-winning show, “Navajo Codetalkers,” for National Geographic.

Harjo currently holds the Joseph Russo Endowed Professorship at the University of New Mexico.