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Sharing Our Untold Stories

[ct_dropcap color=”” style=”normal” ]W[/ct_dropcap]e’re wanting to tell the untold stories,” said Festival Producer and Founding Board Member Tricia van Klaveren.These stories are lessons for the next generations so they will endure through resilience, strength, healing, love, and compassion,” Phyllis Young, President and Founder of the festival continued. “We listen and we hear their voices telling us what is important to them and we share stories so they will not forget.”

The Standing Rock Film & Music Festival takes place June 2, 3 and 4 at the Prairie Knights Casino & Resort in Fort Yates, North Dakota. Featuring a collection of short and feature length documentary films from local and national filmmakers, virtual reality exhibitions, influential music videos and panel discussions with filmmakers and activist, the festival looks to provide a forum to, “empower, enlighten, and entertain the Native Community and all global citizens,” says Mitchell Zephier, Executive Director and Founder of the festival.

The festival was created to support the Water Protector Movement that began at Standing Rock, and each day of the festival focuses on a different thematic element for discussion and viewings. “We’re honoring the water protectors, we’re honoring the youth, we’re honoring the women,” said van Kalveren. “A lot of the films are at the intersection of Native issues and environmental issues. This is an opportunity for the community to come see the films and see the larger picture of what is taking place. My hope is that people realize just how amazing and historical what happened at Standing Rock really is.”

The festival weekend begins on Friday with a day to empower the youth through a music-filled rap/hip hop summit featuring cutting-edge music videos.  The festival opens at 1:00 p.m. with an opening ceremony, and is followed by a youth panel discussion moderated by Charles Walker. The panel is scheduled to include youth engaged with the Water Protectors Movement, including Bobbi Jean Three Legs, Graham Biyall, Tonaka Iron Eyes other youth engaged in the Water Protector Movement.

The first of two virtual reality films offered at the festival, Oil & Water: Episode 1: Mission Accepted, will be shared that afternoon via headsets. “It feels like you’re at Standing Rock,” van Kalveren commented.

The opening night film for the festival is Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was directed by Josh Fox, James Spione, and Myron Dewey. The film features Floris White Bull, who will be in attendance with other members of the film crew for a question and answer session after the film.

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On Saturday, the festival will focus on defending the sacred and honoring the Water Protectors. Filmmakers and videographers who have been shooting at Standing Rock have been invited to share some of their footage and participate in discussions.  A reunion of Water Protectors will begin at 10:00 a.m. with a special Water Protector ceremony.  “The ceremony will be very special if people are wanting to participate in that that,” said van Kalveren.

Saturday’s evening films include a double feature beginning at 7:30 p.m. with Viceland’s Rise: Standing Rock, Part 1, Sacred Water, by Michelle Latimer and Sarain Fox, followed at 9:30 p.m. with More than a Pipeline by filmmakers Lex Olthod and Robert Bridgeman. Members from both filmmaking teams will be in attendance for a question and answer session after the films.

The festival concludes on Sunday, honoring the women, the backbone of the #NoDAPL fight featuring the indigenous women who have united to stop the oil pipeline, which threatens their land, water, and very existence.  Speakers include Pearl Means, widow of Russell Means.

The closing night film is the 2017 Sundance World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award winner, Rumble: the Indians who Rocked the World, by filmmakers Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana. The film documents the contributions of Native American musicians to the rock and roll scene. “I was blown away by that film,” shared van Kalveren. “And the title hints at how incredible the film is. It’s just a stunning documentary and it just shows huge contributions of Native American music to rock and roll, and that the roots of rock and roll are also Native American.” The festival will officially close with an after party and jam session featuring local performing artist.

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Poster image of RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked The World by Catherine Bainbridge and Alfonso Maiorana, an official selection of the World Cinema Documentary Competition at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute.

Additional highlights from the festival include: Powerful screenings along with special panels will include: A Century of War, (by Sean Stone) that showcases the new energy technology Cold Fusion; The Good Mind (by Gwendolen Cates), about the Onondaga Nation (Haudenosaunee/Iroquois Confederacy) which is facing similar environmental and sovereignty issues as Standing Rock; tVirtual Reality films Oil & Water Episode 1 “Mission Accepted” (by filmmakers Eric Fisher and Ryan Moore) and From Alcatraz to Standing Rock, featuring LaNada WarJack (co-produced and directed by Aneeta Akhurst and Cailyn Bradley); and the Influential music videos Taboo’s Stand with Standing Rock; Nataani Means Rebel Music (MTV); Frank Waln’s Oil for Blood; MC Red Eagle’s Song of Survival; Nataani Means Warrior; Spencer & Doc The Storm, and a remix of Prolific The Rapper & A Tribe Called Red’s Black Snake and more. See the festival website for a complete list of show times and films.

Individuals wishing to help support the festival are encourage to donate through the festival’s website. Funds will be used to invite additional filmmakers to attend the festival, and to support the event in future years.

Tickets are available for free via the festival’s website at Large crowds are expected, however, and seating is limited. Participants are encouraged to register prior to the event. Event hours are Friday, 1:00 – 11:00 p.m., Saturday, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m., and Sunday 10:00 a.m. – Monday morning at 1:00 a.m.

For those traveling to the festival, a small number of rooms are currently available at the Casino. Other hotel accommodations are also available in nearby in Bismarck, North Dakota, and Mobridge, South Dakota. A variety of RV and traditional camp sites are also available near the Casino.

For more information about the festival, visit