Cherokee Nation Film Office shines spotlight on Native television
Tribal film office returns to SeriesFest for Season 9
TULSA, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation Film Office recently returned to SeriesFest, which celebrates emerging and underserved voices in television, to help highlight Indigenous creators and Native-driven stories during Season 9 of the annual festival.
Jennifer Loren, senior director for Cherokee Film, moderated the “Bones of Crows” panel following the show’s U.S. premiere at SeriesFest on Saturday, May 6, in Denver, Colorado. The panel included Loren; the series’ director, writer and executive producer Marie Clements; and executive producers Trish Dolman and Christine Haebler, as well as stars Grace Dove and Carla-Rae.
“Bones of Crows” revolves around Cree matriarch Aline Spears as she and her siblings struggle to survive being forced into Canada’s residential school system. The mini-series continues over 100 years following the Spears family’s generational fight against systemic starvation, racism and sexual abuse.
“This series is an extraordinary example of why it is crucial that as an industry we continue to make space for Native-driven content and that we highlight Indigenous creators who are working diligently to tell significant and impactful Native stories,” said Jennifer Loren, senior director of Cherokee Film. “Unfortunately, through the removal of Native children to boarding or residential schools, Cherokee and many other Indigenous families share the intergenerational trauma such as depicted in ‘Bones of Crows.’ It is important that the rest of the world see and hopefully begin to understand the violence and loss of our languages, cultures and community connections, as well as so much other suffering that continues to harm Indigenous families through perpetual intergenerational traumas.”
In its ongoing effort to address the need for more Natives on and off screen, CNFO also helped present last year’s SeriesFest Storytellers Initiative screenwriting competition, aimed specifically at finding an unproduced, 30-minute sitcom featuring a Native American character or writer, with accurate Native American portrayals void of stereotypes.
Co-writers Todd Fuller and Randi LeClaire won SeriesFest’s Storytellers Initiative Season 8 for “Cross X Stitches.” The winning script follows two ragtag teams of Native baseball players as they travel across Oklahoma and the Southwest, playing weekend tournaments and causing chaos from town to town, allowing the present and past to merge as a pitching phenom grandson and his pitching phenom great-grandfather seek to provide for their families.
SeriesFest, a nonprofit organization, champions and empowers artists at the forefront of episodic storytelling by providing year-round opportunities for creators and industry experts to connect, collaborate and share stories, which inspire and impact global audiences.
The Cherokee Nation Film Office launched in 2019 and became the first certified Native American film commission to open in the United States. CNFO also created and maintains unique, all-inclusive talent, crew and consulting online directories featuring Native American actors, extras, voice actors, crew, cultural experts and other industry resources.
In early 2022, Cherokee Nation and its businesses launched a powerful economic tool within the tribe’s reservation and expanded its effort to help grow the film and television industries in Oklahoma when Cherokee Nation Film Office became the first tribal film commission to offer an annual $1 million film incentive for productions filmed within its tribe’s boundaries.