In honor of Women’s History Month, NYWIFT looks back at some of the remarkable women who have shaped the film, television and digital media industries through the decades.
By Mellini Kantayya
Sandra Osawa is a director, producer, and writer. She is a member of the Makah Nation of Washington State.
One could argue that news coverage of Native American issues is still vastly lacking today. Thus, Sandra Osawa was a true ground-breaker in 1974 by directing, producing, and writing NBC’s first news program on Native American issues. She later also became the first Native American filmmaker to produce a POV program for PBS, Lighting the 7th Fire.
Lighting the 7th Fire (1995, PBS)
“I jumped into the film world early,” Osawa said. “At a time when no other Indians were producing. I did so mainly because the images I saw of Indian people in everyday life and the images I saw on the screen were so vastly different. I also thought it was difficult for us to achieve the political victories we sought in the 60’s and 70’s because our image in the media was so poor. I thought American Indians should be portrayed as contemporary figures with a vibrant culture, full of humor and strength, and with our own inspiring role models.”
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NYWIFT member Jodie Alexandra Taylor's documentary Pennhurst, which screens at the Member Screening Series on February 25th, was inspired by her visit to what remains of one of the largest and oldest institutions for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. One chapter of the story ended when the institution closed, but the fight for equitable treatment and representation for the disabled continues to this day. Making the movie inspired a fervent commitment on Taylor’s part to continue that dialogue and, in so doing, change the future narrative. Taylor sat down with us to discuss the film and its potential impact.READ MORE
WFPF Award: Major congratulations to NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund (WFPF), which received the Archivist’s Round Table of Metropolitan New York’s 2019 Outstanding Support of Archives...READ MORE
NYWIFT Member Talya Tibbon's Sky and Ground tells the harrowing tale of one Syrian family's three-month journey from Greece to Germany feeling violence in their homeland. Facing setbacks, heartaches and threats of deportation, their determination propels them towards a better future. In advance of the film's screening as part of the NYWIFT Member Screening Series, Talya discusses her process and how being an "outsider" is an asset to documentary filmmaking.READ MORE