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George Vlahakis
IU Media Relations

Rebecca Riall
First Nations Educational and Cultural Center

Judith A. Kirk
Mathers Museum of World Cultures

Last modified: Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Actor Gary Farmer to kick off second Native Film Series at IU Bloomington

Jan. 24, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Gary Farmer, a cultural activist, musician, citizen of the Cayuga Nation and an actor who has performed in more than 75 films and television shows -- including director Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man and the highly successful Smoke Signals -- will speak next Thursday (Feb. 1) at the opening night of the Native Film Series at Indiana University Bloomington.

Farmer, a three-time nominee for the Independent Spirit Award given by the independent film community, will attend a 6:30 p.m. reception and answer questions after a 7 p.m. screening of Dead Man in room 120 of Woodburn Hall, 1100 E. 7th St.

He will present a lecture on the emergence of Native American media at 5:30 p.m., Friday (Feb. 2), at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures, 416 N. Indiana Ave. Farmer also will speak to several classes and other groups during his visit to the Bloomington campus.

This is the second year for the film series, which offers free screenings of American Indian, Native Canadian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian films. Films will be shown at the Woodburn Hall location every Thursday at 7 p.m. through March 1. All the events and screenings are free and open to the public. This year's theme is "Six Degrees of Gary Farmer."

"Gary Farmer has been in pretty much every modern American Indian movie, or has co-starred with someone who has," said First Nations Educational and Cultural Center Steering Committee member Meredith Johnson, a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. "So our theory is that any indigenous film can be linked to Gary Farmer within six degrees."

"More like two degrees in most cases," added Native American Graduate Student Association (NAGSA) Co-Chair Dennis Lamenti, who is Navajo and Zuni.

He has been featured in ground-breaking leading roles, such as Philbert Bono in Jonathan Wacks' Pow Wow Highway and Arnold Joseph in Chris Eyre's Smoke Signals. For his role as Nobody in Dead Man, Farmer won best actor awards in 1997 from both the American Indian Film Festival and First Americans in the Arts. Farmer also won the best actor award at the 1989 American Indian Film Festival for his role in Pow Wow Highway.

Farmer is widely recognized as a pioneer in the development of First Nations media.

He is the founding director of Aboriginal Voices Radio Network, which broadcasts from 106.5 FM in Toronto and is streamed on the Web at The network holds licenses to broadcast in eight Canadian cities and is establishing stations in Ottawa and Vancouver. AVR webcasts have included live coverage of numerous native events, including film festivals and the recent opening of the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Farmer also led the Aboriginal Voices Festival, an annual film and art event in Toronto, from 1998-2000, and he is the founding editor-in-chief of Aboriginal Voices, a magazine about indigenous arts published from 1993 to 1999. The magazine won first place for general excellence from the Native American Journalist Association in 1995 and 1998.

Farmer has directed three films that have been screened at the Sundance Film Festival, and he was the executive producer and a director for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network series, Buffalo Tracks. He regularly performs with his blues band, The Troublemakers, and has composed music for independent films. He also has an art gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., dedicated to contemporary art by Native American artists.

The Native Film Series features films of interest to Native people as well as to non-Native audiences.

"We don't feature movies about Native people that don't have meaning for us," said Rebecca Riall, NAGSA co-chair and a member of the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama. "We want films that appeal to a wide audience but that reflect our understanding of Native peoples."

Here is a complete schedule for the film series:

  • Feb. 1 -- Dead Man
  • Feb. 8 -- Skins (to be followed by a discussion led by the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center)
  • Feb. 15 -- Pow Wow Highway (to be followed by a discussion led by the Native American Graduate Student Association)
  • Feb. 22 -- The Gift and A Thousand Roads (to be followed by a discussion led by the American Indian Student Association)
  • March 1 -- The Business of Fancy Dancing

The film series and Farmer's visit are sponsored by IU Bloomington's First Nations Educational and Cultural Center, the Native American Graduate Student Association, the American Indian Student Association, La Casa, the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs, the Office of Multicultural Initiatives, the Mathers Museum of World Cultures and the Graduate and Professional Student Organization.

The Mathers Museum of World Cultures is located at 416 N. Indiana Ave. in Bloomington. The museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting knowledge of the world's cultures. It strives for further understanding of both the diversity of the world's specific cultures and the underlying unity of cultures as a human phenomenon.

The American Indian Student Association has brought American Indian students, interested non-Indian students and faculty together since 1997. The Native American Graduate Student Association was founded in fall 2005 to represent issues specific to graduate-level American Indians and works closely in coordination with the American Indian Student Association, which includes American-Indian students, interested non-Indian students and faculty.

The First Nations Educational and Cultural Center Working Group advocates for American Indians in higher education, with a focus on developing an American Indian cultural center on the IU Bloomington campus. For the 2006-07 academic year, the FNECC has received programming funding from the Office of the Vice-President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs, and the Office of the Provost.