This month we check in with the Native Program. In May of this year, Bird Runningwater, director of Sundance Institute’s Native & Indigenous Program gathered a group of four fellows and three advisors in the beautiful lands of the Mescalero-Apache people in New Mexico.
Bird explains the lab in this way: “In Apache we refer to life’s journey as Nda’i bijuuł sia’, which speaks to “life’s living circle.” The Native Program at Sundance Institute is also a part of a circle: one that begins with a filmmaker’s own point of origin, extends with their experiences through the Native Program, and flows onward through the creative journey of completing their film. At some point, we hope this circle will bring finished films back to Native lands and Indigenous points of origin to inspire new generations of storytellers. “
Yolanda Cruz, one of the fellows at this year’s lab, is an indigenous Chatino from Oaxaca, Mexico, and the producer-director of seven award-winning documentaries. Her project,La Raya, tells the story of 11-year-old Papio, who has his eyes set on emigrating to the U.S. with the help of an abandoned refrigerator. We asked her to tell about her journey to the lab.