Past and Present Meet: Sapatq’ayn Cinema Festival Explores American Indian Issues

Wednesday, March 4 2009

March 4, 2009 

NOTE TO MEDIA: Sapatq’ayn is pronounced “suh-PAT-kine”

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Written by Tania Thompson

MOSCOW, Idaho – In 1974, Amy Trice declared war on the government of the United States. The then-Chief of the Kootenai Tribe saw it as a way to save her people who had lost their lands, culture and hunting rights. Trice’s story, told through the motion picture “Idaho’s Forgotten War: A Lost Tale of Courage,” is one of five films to be featured at the University of Idaho’s Sapatq’ayn Cinema Festival March 25-28. Trice and film director Sonya Rosario will be at the film’s screening on opening night.

“It’s a privilege to organize this festival each year and bring meaningful films to audiences that might otherwise never have a chance to see them,” said Jan Johnson, professor of English and American Indian studies and film festival founder and producer. “We always come together to create something good that will have a positive effect. We want the festival to create closer bonds of respect and understanding between cultures. We always hope that more justice and more intercultural understanding come from our efforts. “

The festival’s ceremonial opening on Wednesday, March 25, features Horace Axtell, Nez Perce elder and 2008 National Medal of Arts recipient, Mary Jane Oatman-Wak Wak, state of Idaho director of Indian education, and the Palouse Falls Drum.

The offerings this year:

Wednesday, March 25: “Idaho’s Forgotten War: A Lost Tale of Courage;”

• Thursday, March 26: “Maria Tallchief,” a film by Sandra Osawa, that documents the life and artistry of America’s first prima ballerina Tallchief who danced with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and the New York City Ballet; preview of the public television “American Experience” series called “We Shall Remain;”

Friday, March 27: “Frozen River,” a film by Courtney Hunt, winner of a grand jury prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and an Academy Award nominee;

Saturday, March 28: “I Look at Indians, I Look at Myself,” a short film by Jason Lujan; and “The Exiles,” a recently restored and critically acclaimed 1960 film about Indians from reservations who had relocated to Los Angeles by Kent McKenzie. Cinematographer Erik Daarstad will speak at the screening.

“It’s always an exciting challenge to put together a good slate of films with interesting and inspiring guest artists and speakers,” said Johnson. “I am particularly looking forward to hearing Erik Daarstad help us understand the complex collaboration involved in the film “The Exiles” that followed a group of young Indians recently relocated to Los Angeles and the white filmmaker who wanted to tell their story.”

The 2009 film festival runs Wednesday through Saturday, March 25-28 at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre, 508 S. Main St. in Moscow. All films are free and open to the public; screenings begin at 7 p.m. each evening.

Sapatq’ayn Cinema is supported by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council and sponsored by the University of Idaho American Indian Studies program. The film festival was created in 2002 by Jan Johnson, professor of American Indian Studies and English. Sapatq’ayn is a Nez Perce word meaning a display or moving picture.

For more information, call (208) 882-0109 or visit the festival Web site:

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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit

Media Contact: Tania Thompson, University Communications, (208) 885-6567,

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit