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The Sundance Film Festival has had a profound impact on independent cinema, including supporting and creating space for Indigenous storytelling through film. From the launch of the Native Forum in 1994 to the many fellowships and programs geared toward uplifting Indigenous artists—Sundance continues to be a force in driving narrative change and championing Indigenous voices in the film industry. 

In 2023 IllumiNative launched the inaugural Indigenous House—a vibrant celebration of Native and Indigenous creativity, strength, and culture.


Each year, the Sundance Film Festival celebrates dozens of independent films. This year, seven Indigenous-led films, across 6 different categories, will be featured at Sundance between January 18th and 28th. Online screenings available January 25th – 28th.

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Swipe to scroll through the films and click the image to see full size.


Playing a Transformative Role in Independent Cinema

The Sundance Film Festival is a key hub for independent films, showcasing emerging trends, fostering networking, and providing a platform for discussions on film and technology. The films featured each year at Sundance gain a better chance to secure deals with major studios and distributors, increasing the likelihood the films will reach mass audiences through streaming services or theaters.

Providing a Turning Point in Indigenous Films

“Smoke Signals,” directed by Chris Eyre in 1998, made history as the first feature film produced, directed, and written by Indigenous artists to receive a commercial release. Its debut at Sundance, where it clinched the Audience Award, marked a significant milestone in Indigenous filmmaking.

Photo Credit: Anna Webber/Getty Images for IllumiNative

Creating Space for Indigenous Storytelling

In 1994 Sundance began the Native Forum, providing a platform specifically for Indigenous filmmakers to share their stories and perspectives while showcasing Native films. This programming later transformed to what we now know as the Sundance Indigenous Program, which provides Indigenous storytellers support through labs, fellowships, and gatherings.

Photo Credit: Josué Rivas/ INDÍGENA

Supporting Influencers of Narrative Change

Erica Tremblay (Seneca Cayuga), Sydney Freeland (Diné), Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muscogee), and Billy Luther (Diné/Hopi/Laguna Pueblo) are some of the notable individuals actively reshaping Indigenous narratives, all of whom have received support or participated in Sundance programming.

Photo Courtesy of Sundance Org

Launching IllumiNative’s Indigenous House

Illuminative’s Indigenous House at Sundance was founded in 2023 and is a vibrant celebration of Native creatives and filmmakers, showcasing their contributions and resilience. It’s a shared space for Native and non-Native communities to learn, be inspired, and acknowledge challenges in the film industry.


(We’ll be adding more years soon!)


dir. Julian Brave NoiseCat / Emily Kassie

The Moogai
dir. Jon Bell

Bay of Herons
dir. Jared James Lank (Mi’kmaq)

Lea Tupu’anga / Mother Tongue
dir. Vea Mafile’o (Kiwi/Tongan)

dir. Mariah Eli Hernandez-Fitch (Houma)

Winding Path
dir. Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree) / Ross Kauffman


Bad Behaviour
dir. Alice Englert / prod. Desray Armstrong (Te-Aitanga-a-Hauiti & Ngāti Porou)
Watch Trailer

Bad Press
dir. Rebecca Landsberry-Baker (Muscogee [Creek])
Watch Trailer

Fancy Dance
dir. Erica Tremblay (Seneca–Cayuga)

dir. Fox Maxy (Payómkawichum and Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians)
Watch Trailer

Twice Colonized
prod. Emile Hertling Péronard (Greenlandic Inuit) / Alethea Arnaquq-Baril (Inuit) / Stacey Aglok Macdonald (Inuit)
Watch Trailer

Murder in Big Horn
dir. Razelle Benally (Oglala Lakota and Navajo)
Watch Online

dir. Nova Paul (Te Uri Ro Roi and Te Parawhau/Nga Puhi)
Watch on Native Shorts

dir. Taietsarón:sere Leclaire (Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) and Mi’kmaq)

I Am Home
dir. Kymon Greyhorse (Navajo & Tongan)

Sunflower Siege Engine
dir. Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians)
Watch Online

Unborn Biru
dir. Inga Elin Marakatt (Sámi)
Watch on PBS


This is Not a Ceremony – VR Experience
dir. Ahnahktsipiitaa (Colin Van Loon)(Piikani Nation)
Watch Trailer

Every Day in Kaimukī
dir. Alika Tengan
Watch Online

dir. Brit Hensel (Cherokee)
Watch Online

The Headhunter’s Daughter
dir. Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan
Streaming Online

On the Morning You Wake (To The End of the World)
Lead Artist: Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio (Kānaka Maoli) / Mike Brett / Steve Jamison / Arnaud Colinart / Pierre Zandrowicz
VR Experience

Long Line of Ladies
dir. Shaandiin Tome (Diné) / Rayka Zehtabchi
Watch Online

Kicking the Clouds
dir. Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians)
Watch Online

XR Lead Artist: Tanu Gago (Samoan) / Jermaine Dean (Māori)
Learn More

dir. Xóchitl Enríquez Mendoza (Zapoteca)
Watch Trailer


The Fourfold
dir. Alisi Telengut
Watch Online

This Is The Way We Rise
dir. Ciara Lacey
Watch Online

Wild Indian
dir. Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Ojibwe)
Watch Online

Coming Home In The Dark
dir. James Ashcroft
Watch on Netflix


dir. Amanda Kernell
Watch Online

Little Chief
dir. Erica Tremblay
Watch Online

Małni – towards the ocean, towards the shore
Watch Online

dir. Lisa Jackson (Anishinaabe)
Watch Trailer

Now Is The Time
dir. Christopher Auchte (Haida)
Watch Online


Top End Wedding
dir. Wayne Blair
Stream on Peacock
Buy/Rent on Amazon

MERATA: How Mum Decolonised The Screen
dir. Hepi Mita / prod. Chelsea Winstanley, Te Arepa Kahi
Watch Trailer

Words from a Bear
dir. Jeffrey Palmer (Kiowa)
Buy/Rent on Amazon

Fainting Spells
dir. Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk)
Watch Online

Shinaab, Pt. II
dir. Lyle Mitchell Corbine Jr. (Ojibwe)

Fast Horse
dir. Alexandra Lazarowich (Cree)
Watch Online

Throat Singing in Kangirsuk
dir. Eva Kaukai, Manon Chamberland
Watch Online

Birds in the Earth
dir. Marja Helander (Sámi)
Watch Excerpt


Genesis 2.0
dir. Christian Frei and Maxim Arbugaev (Yakut/Buryat)
Watch Online

We the Animals
dir. Jeremiah Zagar / prod. Jeremy Yaches, Christina D. King (Creek and Seminole Nations), Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey
Stream Online

Sweet Country
dir. Warwick Thornton (Kaytej Nation) / writer. Stephen McGregor, David Tranter (Alyawarra Nation)
Stream Online

Mud (Hashtł’ishnii)
dir. Shaandiin Tome (Diné)
Watch Online

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets
dir. Adam Khalil, Zack Khalil (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Jackson Polys (Tlingit)
Watch Online

dir. Michelle Latimer (Métis/Algonquin)
Watch Online

I Like Girls
Watch Online

Akicita: The Battle of Standing Rock
dir. Cody Lucich, (Estom Yumeka Maidu Tribe of Enterprise Rancheria)