Indigenous Film Circle Mentors’ Biographies
Chris Eyre is an award-winning director and producer from South Dakota. He began his film career studying at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts, where his short film “Tenacity” took home the Mobile Award for “best film.” Shortly after, Eyre’s directorial debut at the Sundance Film Festival with “Smoke Signals” won the Audience Award and has gone on to become the most famous Native film in Indian Country. Since, he has gone on to make several feature films including “Skins” and “Edge of America” and has directed several television episodes for series such as “Law and Order: SVU,” “Friday Night Lights,” and directed three of the five-part mini-series “We Shall Remain” for PBS. Eyre has been described as “the preeminent Native American filmmaker of his time” by People magazine. In 2007 he was selected for two prestigious artist awards – the United States Artists Fellowship and the Bush Foundation Artists Fellowship in Film/Media. His most recent film, “A Year in Mooring” premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film and Music Festival.
Donald Ranvaud began his filmmaking career teaching at the University of Warwick and East Anglia. In 1975 he launched the magazine on independent cinema, Framework. He also freelanced for several other film journals such as Cahiers du Cinema, Sight and Sound, The Guardian and several others. In 1989, with Renee Goddard, he formed the European Script Fund (part of the MEDIA Programme of the Commission of the European Community) and later helped get the Media Programme fully integrated into the EC Policy. Ranvaud is concerned with discovering and nurturing filmmakers and empowering them to find their true creative voices in a sustainable and cost effective manner and has worked tirelessly as an ubiquitous ambassador for Latin and Centro American cinema, campaigning for and raising the profile of lesser known film industries through- out the region in scores of ventures and projects, from film festivals to film funds. Some of his joint ventures include the creation of Artes Andes Americas, an institute for Film and Theater in Yotala, Bolivia, Rain Networks – a São Paulo-based Digital Cinema company, and Buena Onda Limited, a production company whose principal activity is geared towards nurturing and developing new writing and directing talent. Several films he has produced have received international accolades including numerous Cannes, Venice and Academy Award-winning films such as “City of God,” “The Constant Gardener” and “Farewell My Concubine.” He also serves on several film festival juries, most notably Biennale Cinema di Venezia, Sundance NHK Latin American Panel, Thessaloniki and Palm Springs.
Heather Rae’s diverse film background includes being the former director of the Native Program at the Sundance Film Institute where she helped shape the careers for many Native American voices in cinema today. Since, she has made over two dozen films and documentaries in various roles. Continued>
In 2009, Variety named her one of “10 Producers to Watch” for her success with both independent and mainstream films. In 2008, Rae produced the Grand Jury Prize-winning film at the Sundance Film Festival, “Frozen River,” which won two Independent Spirit Awards, including one for Rae as Producer of the Year and also received two Academy Award nominations. In 2005, she released her feature length documentary about the life of John Trudell, a project that was 13 years in the making and took home several awards winning Best Documentary Feature at the American Indian Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival. In 2007 “Trudell” was nationally broadcast on PBS in the documentary series Independent Lens. Rae’s documentary “First Circle,” about the foster care system and the impact of drugs on families and children, recently premiered at the 2010 Woodstock Film Festival. Prior to Sundance, Rae worked as a producer on such documentaries for television as CBS’ “500 Nations” and PBS’ “Storytellers of the Pacific.” After leaving Sundance, she began producing feature films, including “American Monster,” starring Adam Beach, Gary Farmer, and Udo Kier.
Annie Nocenti lives in New York City, but her work takes her to far distances for long periods of time. She helped launch the Ciné Institute of Haiti in partnership with Francis Ford Coppola to educate and empower Haitian youth through cinema. She continues to bring film training programs from Mexico to Kingston, New York and has an uncanny ability to modify and tailor each program for the varying communities she has worked in. Annie teaches anything from screenwriting to no-budget filmmaking. For each program she helps to create, she works with the communities to ensure the sustainability and training continues for years to come. She also writes comic books and consults on film scripts for Marvel Comics and DC (Spider Man, Typhoid Mary, Dare Devil), was the editor of Scenario – the magazine for screenwriting art and has interviewed film greats such as Coppola, Polanski, Soderberg, Aronofsky, Mel Brooks and Steve Martin. Some of her films include two documentaries shot in Pakistan “The Baluch” about the Baluch insurgency and “Disarming Falcons” about the ancient art of falconry and the “48 Hour Film.” Annie was recently honored at the 2011 Tulsa International Film Festival with a Humanitarian Award for her work with youth and media.
Mikael Olsen has worked in many various positions in the Danish Film and Television industry for the last 25 years – as screenwriter, producer, script editor, chairman of the writers guild and commissioning editor. Working as such in Danish Film Institute he had both luck and horse-sense to commission “Dancer in the Dark,” “Fucking Åmal” and several dogma films. He has been working with the infamous Danish production company Zentropa the last ten years as a producer and has been attracted to coproduction in Scandinavia and Europe coproducing the first Sami feature “Bazo” (2003) since “The Pathfinder.” He produced “Visions of Europe” bringing 25 European directors together each contributing a 5 minute film about their view of Europe amongst which were Jan Troell, Aki Kaurismäki, Fatih Akin, Peter Greenaway, Bela Tarr, Malgorzata Szumowska to mention a few. Besides producing and writing a number of Danish films he also has contributed to other European and Scandinavian films – most lately to award-winning films as “33 Scenes of Life,” “Metropia” and the documentary “Videocracy.” He has been teaching and organizing workshops about filmmaking for the last 15 years alongside his other work always regarding himself to be the first pupil in any class.
Below: 2011–2013 Mentors and Fellows. From Top to Bottom, Left to Right: Chris Eyre, Heather Rae, Donald Ranvaud, Álvaro Sarmiento Pagán, Orgun Wagua, Annie Nocenti, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Darlene Johnson, Sara Magrethe Oskal, Edgar Noé Sajcabún Mux, Philipp Abryutin, Mikael Olsen, John Utsi, Valarie Jernigan, Tvli Jacob and Siljá Somby. Photo by Sergey Gavrilov for the International Sámi Film Centre.