Standing Rock film festival centers around pipeline protest

A film festival on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation aims to bolster the anti-pipeline movement that blossomed there last year while also fostering connections between the Native American community and the film industry.

In this Aug. 12, 2016, file photo, Native Americans protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in southern North Dakota. A weekend film festival on the reservation aims to bolster the anti-pipeline movement that blossomed there last year. Another goal of the inaugural Standing Rock Nation Film and Music Festival at the tribal casino near Fort Yates, N.D., beginning Friday, June 2, 2017, is to foster connections between the Native American community and the film industry. (AP Photo/James MacPherson, File)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A film festival on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation aims to bolster the anti-pipeline movement that blossomed there last year while also fostering connections between the Native American community and the film industry.

The inaugural Standing Rock Nation Film and Music Festival, which runs this coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the tribal casino near Fort Yates, will showcase the talent of Native American filmmakers and musicians. It also features films about American Indians and provides a venue for those who opposed the $3.8 billion Dakota Access oil pipeline to reminisce.

"It was the most amazing coming together of people from all over the country, all over the world," said festival producer Tricia van Klaveren, an independent filmmaker in San Francisco who spent time in a protest camp in southern North Dakota that held hundreds and sometimes thousands of people between August and February. "Standing Rock represents, people really came together and united. History was created."

People in the camp dubbed themselves "water protectors," a reference to the fear that oil and gas pipelines threaten water sources. They couldn't stop Dakota Access — the line to move North Dakota oil to a distribution point in Illinois is set to go into commercial service on Thursday — but the movement has spread to other pipeline projects around the country.

Organizers hope some people will make a return trip for the festival, though the casino has a capacity of only 1,000 people. Many events and panels will be live-streamed online.

"It is our goal that this weekend festival will empower, enlighten, and entertain the Native community and all global citizens," said Mitchell Zephier, a member of the Lower Brule tribe in South Dakota and the festival's founder and executive director.

Among the films being screened are "AWAKE, A Dream from Standing Rock," which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April, and "Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World," a documentary about Native musicians. That film, which won an award at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah, is an example of another purpose of the event.

"Part of the festival is creating a bridge between the Native community and film industry," van Klaveren said. "Telling more of the stories that haven't been told, and telling them through the Native American lens, the Native American perspective."

The festival is free, though donations are encouraged so there's money to continue the event in future years, van Klaveren said. This year's festival is being funded by the tribe and volunteer labor, she said.

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