Indigenous Filmaking with Native American Bird Runningwater

Photo of people talking
Bird Runningwater interacting with students. (U.S. Embassy photo)

Bird Runningwater, the Director of Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program, visited Kota Kinabalu on Oct 1-5 for the Borneo Eco Film Fest. He gave several talks and screened some short films by filmmakers he has identified and supported through the Sundance Institute. He also visited Kuching, Sarawak from Oct 8-10 and gave presentations at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, the non-profit organization AZAM, and at the Lincoln Corner at the State Library. He also gave one presentation at the National University (Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia) in Bangi, Selangor.

During his outreach, Bird shared his personal story about growing up at the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico, why he sees indigenous filmmaking as a distinct genre, what it means to indigenous filmmakers to get their story out there, and to what extent there is a place for indigenous storytelling. Bird has nurtured a new generation of filmmakers including Sterlin Harjo, Taika Waititi and Billy Luther whose films have put Native Cinema on the cultural map.