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Racing the Rez, POV: Up Heartbreak Hill | Premieres November 1, 2013 at 7pm
For the Navajo and Hopi, running is much more than a sport, it is woven into the cultural fabric of their lives. Encouraged by their elders, many Navajos and Hopis begin running at an early age - to greet the morning sun, to prepare for a ceremony or simply to challenge themselves in the vast, southwestern landscape. In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, Navajo and Hopi cross-country runners from two rival high schools vie for the state championship while striving to find their place among their native people and the larger American culture. Win or lose, what they learn over the course of two racing seasons has a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives. Combining interviews with verite-style shooting, RACING THE REZ offers a rare view into the surprising complexity and diversity of contemporary reservation life, from the point of view of five teenage boys on the cusp of adulthood. The documentary follows Ryan, Dennis, Billy, Johnny and Joyai from the classrooms to their remote, un-electrified homes, from grueling runs across canyons and mesas to their ultimate day of reckoning - the state meet - and beyond.

Smokin’ Fish | Premieres November 3, 2013 at 11pm
Cory Mann is a quirky Tlingit businessman hustling to make a dollar in Juneau, Alaska. He gets hungry for smoked salmon, nostalgic for his childhood, and decides to spend a summer smoking fish at his family's traditional fish camp. The unusual story of his life and the untold history of his people interweave with the process of preparing the food as he struggles to pay his bills, keep the IRS off his back, and keep his business afloat. By turns tragic, bizarre, or just plain ridiculous, SMOKIN' FISH tells the story of one man's attempts to navigate the messy collision between the modern world and an ancient culture.

America ReFramed: Skydancer, Unconquered Seminoles | Premieres November 5, 2013 at 8pm
The Brooklyn Bridge, the Empire State Building, the World Trade Center: for more than 120 years, Mohawk ironworkers have raised America's modern cityscapes. They are called 'sky walkers' because they walk fearlessly atop steel beams just a foot wide, high above the city. Who are these Mohawk sky walkers? What is their secret for overcoming fear? Has 'sky walking' replaced an ancient rite of passage? Or is it the pure need to adapt in order to survive? And what is their life really like, when every Friday at quitting time, they jump in their cars and make the eight-hour drive up north to their families on the reservation? SKYDANCER is a feature length documentary that takes a provocative look at Indian life in the 21st Century: from the fragile hierarchy on top of the breathtaking steel structures in New York City to life 'on the Rez' where problems like unemployment and crime make it hard to see the pristine beauty of the surrounding lands. The film allows exceptional access to the lives of these ironworkers and in the process offers an intriguingly different perspective on contemporary Native Americans.

Native Waters: A Chitimacha Recollection | Premieres November 16, 2013 at 1:30pm & 11:30pm
The Chitimacha, the 1,000-member tribe known as "the People of Many Waters," are heirs to an unbroken 8,000-year past. Living off the bounty of Louisiana's Atchafalaya Basin, one of the richest inland estuaries on the continent, this indigenous nation persists and rejuvenates its culture despite gradually losing its ancestral territory to environmental and man-made forces. NATIVE WATERS: A CHITIMACHA RECOLLECTION journeys into sacred places of the Atchafalaya Basin with author Roger Stouff, the son of the last chief of the Chitimacha Indians and a keeper of his family's oral tradition. Stouff shares native stories, beliefs and perspectives about this often overlooked people. An avid fly-fisherman, Stouff laments the certain demise of the river basin, the depletion of its sacred fishing and hunting grounds and the painful "vanishings" of the time-honored Chitimacha way of life.

Sitting Bull: A Stone in My Heart | Premieres November 17, 2013 at 11pm
This award-winning documentary makes extensive use of Sitting Bull's own words, giving the viewer an intimate portrait of one of America's legendary figures in all his complexities as a leader of the great Sioux Nation, presents the story of a warrior, spiritual leader and skilled diplomat. Sitting Bull's words, as portrayed by Adam Fortunate Eagle, dominate the story. Augmented by a narrator's historical perspective, over six-hundred historical photographs and images, and a compelling original music score, the film brings to life the little-know human side of Sitting Bull as well as the story of a great man's struggle to maintain his people's way of life against an ever-expanding westward movement of white settlers. It is a powerful cinematic journey into the life and spirit of a legendary figure of whom people have often heard of but don't really know. Winner of the Best Documentary award at the Big Water Film Festival; Best Documentary Feature (second Place) Native American Voices (second place) at the Fargo Film Festival; Office Selection at Santa Barbara International Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival (San Francisco), Tiburon International Film Festival, and the Ojai Film Festival.

Local, USA: Native American Culture | Premieres November 18, 2013 at 6pm & 9pm
Three stories about the modern Native American culture: A look at how climate change is effecting a Pacific Northwest tribe known as the "Salmon People" and how science can help find a solution; the Lincoln, Nebraska rock star artist who's creating sculptures, linking the past to the present; and the fight an Oklahoma tribe tries to revive their fading language.

America ReFramed: Medicine Game, Injunuity | Premieres November 19, 2013 at 8pm
The Medicine Game shares the remarkable journey of two brothers from the Onondaga Nation driven by a single goal; to beat the odds and play lacrosse for national powerhouse Syracuse University. The obstacles in their way are frequent and daunting. In their darkest hour, and with their dreams crumbling around them, the boys must look to their family and to their Native teachings for guidance and stability. It is their search for identity that transitions The Medicine Game from a playful coming of age story, into an important study of modern Native American life. The film follows their story over the next six years as they struggle to rebuild their friendship, rescue a fading childhood dream, and gain a more resolute understanding of their identity and culture, both as athletes and the next generation of the Onondaga people. Click here for more information.

Seeking Water from the Sun | Premieres November 24, 2013 at 11:30pm
After 30 years off the Navajo Nation, Rosie Sekayumptewa returned to the homestead where generations of her family have lived. She found the beauty and serenity she remembered-and the scarcity that had shaped her childhood. In Sekayumptewa's corner of the reservation, there is no access to safe, clean water. Almost forty percent of the Navajo Nation's residents drive hundreds of miles every month to haul water back to their homes, where they ration what they have and use scant gallons for washing, bathing, cooking and drinking. Sekayumptewa had helped her family haul water as a child, and when she returned to her home she found that fact of life unchanged. But water may be on the way. University of Arizona scientists are exploring how to use solar energy to make clean water. Their hope is to bring solar-based, "off the grid" water purification to the vast, 24,000-square-mile Navajo Nation and its residents. If their pilot project succeeds, access to safe and inexpensive water may finally become a reality for the Dine people. Seeking Water from the Sun takes viewers on a journey into the drama of scientific innovation and the harsh reality of life without water. It visits laboratories and homesteads, follows residents and scientists, all to explore the very human story of a very real need.

Grab | Premieres November 25, 2013 at 7pm
An official selection at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, GRAB is an intimate portrait of the little-documented Grab Day in the villages of New Mexico's Laguna Pueblo tribe. This community-wide prayer of abundance, thanks and renewal exists at the intersection of traditional native and contemporary Western cultures. Each year, Laguna Pueblo villagers honor Catholic saints and family members by showering food and gifts from the rooftops of their homes upon the community gathered below. GRAB explores the origins and evolution of this 300-year-old custom, from its introduction by Spanish settlers to its modern-day twists. The film, narrated by actress Parker Posey, follows three families as they prepare for the annual event, chronicling their lives for the year leading up to Grab Day.

POV: Sun Kissed | Premieres November 26, 2013 at 9pm
When a Navajo couple discovers their children have a disorder that makes exposure to sunlight fatal, they also learn their reservation is a hotbed for this rare genetic disease. Why? "Sun Kissed" follows Dorey and Yolanda Nez as they confront cultural taboos, tribal history and their own unconventional choices to learn the shocking truth: the consequences of the Navajos' Long Walk -- their forced relocation by the U.S. military in 1864 --are far from over.

Urban Rez, Independent Lens: Young Lakota, Independent Lens: Indian | Premieres November 27, 2013 at 7pm
URBAN REZ explores the controversial legacy and modern-day repercussions of the Urban Relocation Program (1952-1973), the greatest voluntary upheaval of Native Americans during the 20th century. During the documentary, dozens of American Indians representing tribal groups from across the West recall their first-hand experiences with relocation, including early hardships, struggles with isolation and racism. Interviewees also speak about the challenges of maintaining one's own tribal traditions - from language to hunting - while assimilating into the larger society. Actor, musician and Oglala Lakota member Moses Brings Plenty narrates this insightful film about this seldom-told chapter in American history.

Indians Like Us, Waterbuster, Walking into the Unknown | Premieres November 29, 2013 at 6pm & 9pm
A sincere admiration of Native culture gives way to this charming documentary about a small of French citizens-called "Savy Western"-who share a passion for everything Native American. Every weekend, they dress in Native regalia and make appearances at various village fairs alongside their countrymen in France. However, in order to fulfill their dream, they must travel to the United States and meet "real Indians." Together, they finally manage a two-week drive across the Midwest and discover that the reality of contemporary Native Americans is quitedifferent from their portrayed envisioning. Filled with unforeseen emotion, this road movie presents great encounters on both sides.

Independent Lens Blog

A Musical Journey Through Muscle Shoals

The word “magic” is mentioned a lot in Muscle Shoals, a mesmerizing documentary that tries to explain, or at least place in context, the extraordinary success of FAME (founded by producer Rick Hall...

Trials of Muhammad Ali Simulcast: Online Screening and Live Chat

The Trials of Muhammad Ali Exclusive Screening & Live Chat with Director Bill Siegel Monday April 14, 10pm ET/7 PT Independent Lens, Kartemquin Films, and Eight Arizona are trying something new...

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