32nd American Indian film fest under way

The 32nd annual American Indian Film Festival opens today in San Francisco and runs through Nov. 10.

The event, sponsored by the American Indian Film Institute, the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, showcases some 70 feature films, shorts, documentaries, public service announcements and music videos from U.S. Indian and Canada First Nation communities.

Two documentaries — biographies of ballet dancers — open the festival at the Embarcadero Center Cinema, 1 Embarcadero Center. Tonight at 7 p.m. marks the world premiere of “Maria Tallchief” directed by Sandra Osawa, which chronicles the life of Osage dancer Tallchief, who was hailed as “America’s first prima ballerina.” The film includes rare dance footage and exclusive interviews with the performer.

“Water Flowing Together,” directed by Gwendolen Cates, delves into the life of renowned Navajo Indian-Puerto Rican New York City Ballet principal dancer Jock Soto. The film explores his connection to his heritage and follows him through the last two years of his career up to his retirement in 2005.

The second part of the festival begins at the Palace of Fine Arts, 3301 Lyon St. at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 8 with the documentary “Gathering Together” and the feature “Four Sheets to the Wind.” In “Gathering Together,” James Fortier tells the story of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe’s first traditional regional potlatch in over a century; “Four Sheets to the Wind” is a coming of age drama directed by Sterlin Harjo.

The festival closes Nov. 9 with the world premiere of the documentary “Making the River,” about Jimi Dexter Simmons, who was charged with the first-degree murder of a prison guard at Washington State Penitentiary. The program also features “Imprint,” the story of a prominent Native American attorney who returns to her ancestral home and is haunted by ghostly visions.

AIFI’s American Indian Motion Picture Awards Show, honoring filmmakers and showcasing contemporary American Indian talent, follows the main event programming in a ceremony at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Palace of Fine Arts.

Tickets for programs range from $7 to $15. For details and ticket information, visit www.aifisf.com or call (415) 554-0525.

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