Documenting Indigenous Stories Through Film: An Alternative Lens

Lourdes Grobet and Julianna Brannum
In conversation with filmmaker Yolanda Cruz
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Episode Summary

Two filmmakers share and discuss excerpts from their new documentaries that illuminate indigenous stories rarely seen on film. Bering: Balance and Resistance, by Lourdes Grobet—one of Mexico’s most renowned photographers—lyrically reflects on an Inuit community’s search for new values while struggling to reconcile the past. In Indian 101, filmmaker Julianna Brannum focuses on lessons taught by her great aunt LaDonna Harris, the Comanche activist who helped negotiate the return of sacred ground to the Taos Pueblo Indians. Far apart geographically, these two communities are irrevocably linked as they navigate their contemporary history.

Participant(s) Bio

Lourdes Grobet, a contemporary photographer, is best known for her photographs of Mexican Lucha libre wrestlers. Her work has been exhibited widely in more than a hundred individual and joint exhibitions, including MoMA in New York and San Francisco and festivals such as PhotoEspaña in Madrid. Among her many published books are Lourdes Grobet: LuchaLibre, Espectacular de LuchaLibre, and Luchalibremexicana. Among her other projects are: Paisajespintados, Teatrocampesino, Strip Tease. Bering: Balance and Resistance (2013) is her first documentary film, inspired by a photographic exhibition of the same name she authored in 2009. Groubet lives in Mexico.

Julianna Brannum is a documentary filmmaker based in Austin, TX. Her first film, The Creek Runs Red, aired in 2007 on PBS’s national prime-time series, Independent Lens. In early 2008, she co-produced a feature-length documentary with Emmy Award-winning producer Stanley Nelson for PBS’s We Shall Remain – a 5-part series on Native American history. Brannum was a 2007 Sundance Institute/Ford Foundation Fellow and has been awarded many grants and fellowships for her latest documentary LaDonna Harris: Indian 101. She is a member of the Quahada band of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma.

Yolanda Cruz is a filmmaker from Oaxaca, Mexico. She is a 2011 Sundance Screenwriting and Directing Lab Fellow, whose first feature script, La Raya, will be produced by Canana Films in 2015. Her work has been screened at venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Park la Villette in Paris, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, and the National Institute of Cinema in Mexico City. She holds an MFA from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television. Cruz is also an alumna of the Sundance Institute Native Lab.