Sapatq’ayn Cinema Celebrates Native Americans in Film March 26-27

Monday, March 1 2010

Note to Media: Sapatq’ayn is pronounced “suh-pot-kin.”

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho’s annual Native American Film Festival, Sapatq’ayn Cinema, will celebrate Native people telling their own stories through the art of film on March 26-27, at the Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre.

The festival will kick off on Friday, March 26, at 7 p.m. with a ceremonial opening that includes Nez Perce Elder Horace Axtell and the University of Idaho Native American Student Drum.

Following the opening ceremony will be a screening of “Reel Injun,” Canadian Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond’s entertaining and insightful look at the Hollywood Native American. The film explores the portrayal of North American Natives through the history of cinema. Traveling through the heartland of America, Diamond looks at how the myth of “the Injun” has influenced the world’s understanding – and misunderstanding – of Natives.

The film festival continues Saturday, March 27, at 7 p.m. with a showing of Seminole/Creek director Sterlin Harjo’s latest film, “Barking Water.” Harjo described the film as “I tell stories from a place and about people that mainstream audiences rarely hear about.” The film follows Irene and Frankie, an older couple who have a difficult past, on a journey toward home and healing. With steady and graceful performances by Richard Ray Whitman as Frankie and Casey Camp-Horinek as Irene, this story takes viewers for a ride in the backseat of Frankie and Irene’s Indian car, listening to their past and the rhythmic soundtrack that sets the beat for a redemptive road journey.

“Barking Water” embarks viewers on a journey with Harjo, and wraps viewers in the charm and love of Oklahoma through the people and places Irene and Frankie visit along the way. In this sparingly sentimental and achingly poignant film, Harjo claims his place as one of the most truthful and honest voices working in American cinema today. “Barking Water” is an expression of gratitude for the ability to have lived and loved.

Sapatq’ayn is a Nez Perce word meaning “to display” or “a motion picture.” Sapatq’ayn Cinema films are written, directed and acted by Native Americans, with a focus on contemporary Native experience. The festival’s goals are to enrich its audience’s understanding of Native American artistry, culture and history, and to foster positive intercultural relationships.

The festival is produced by English and American Indian Studies professor Jan Johnson. “Film is one of the most powerful and accessible mediums of contemporary Native American storytelling – a form of cultural sovereignty whereby Native people determine their own identities and destinies and tell their own stories,” she noted. “The festival reflects and explores the cultural diversity of our campus and our region, and our location in Indian Country.”

Sapatq’ayn Cinema is sponsored by the University of Idaho American Indian Studies Program and the Idaho Humanities Council. All shows are free of charge and open to the public.
For more information about Sapatq’ayn Cinema, visit

To learn more information about the movies, visit and
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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 130 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. The university is home to the Vandals, the 2009 Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl champions. For information, visit

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