ATA Screening of Witness the Healing and Interview

ATA Screening of Witness the Healing, May 20, 2009
ATA Screening of Witness the Healing, May 20, 2009

I’m showing portions of Witness the Healing tonight at ATA in San Francisco, with KPOO radio simultaneous broadcast of the interviews with Mary Jean Robertson. Ann Marie Sayers, Tribal Leader, Mutsun Ohlone, Indian Canyon, will be there to share more about her life’s work with Coastanoan Indian Research, and Ohlone people today. The photographer and creator with Community Works, Ruth Morgan, will also be there to talk more about the photos she took of the Ohlone women at an event to honor the elder women I was involved several years ago. Visit Ruth Morgan to learn more about her photography. Some of the elder women’s photographs are featured in Witness the Healing .

Come by ATA tonight from 6-10 p.m. if you can!

Witness the Healing started out as a short film, commissioned a couple years ago for one of the first in a series of events designed to highlight the historic experience and presence of Ohlone people today. That short film lead to a public projection on Coit Tower last summer, and a showing of the short film at SOMARTS. After the response and as it became clear that the topics discussed in Witness the Healing resonated within and outside the Native community, I committed to making a longer film. Witness the Healing rounds out the short film by placing my family’s experience in the context of the history of Northern California peoples, and reflecting on the experience today of urban Indians.

I have been researching historical records, and conducting family interviews. I recently obtained funding for better camera equipment so that I can be sure the footage for the longer film is produced in the highest quality to meet professional standards. Up until this point, I have struggled to find funding for my work, and I’ve worked on improving production value. What has been accomplished to date has been with great support from family, friends, like-minded individuals and organizations to be able to carry on.

My efforts in sharing portions of the film now is to broaden understanding about California Native people in general, the history of California native policy ,and to explore how those policies impact families today. I focus specifically in the film on the search for my family’s Ohlone roots, and at the same time, highlight the experience of “undocumented” native people experienced by so many native and other people. The title sums up the end point of the journey – to heal by witnessing, being present to the history of our families so that healing can happen on a personal and community level.

I am seeking production funding to complete new filming in the Almaden Mine Museum Archives and in San Francisco as I explore my family’s life here in 1860, and interviews with cultural bearers and humanities experts to better illuminate native history in California and the impact on Native families. Interviews with the Ohlone leadership of today will place my search in a broader context of beliefs and opinions of Ohlone today about the future generations.

In my ongoing efforts to complete the film, I continue to raise money to support the remaining production costs.

I’m waiting to hear back from the California Council for the Humanities about a grant that would make it possible to create a really cool interactive online project that will give greater context and understanding about life in early California. Cross your fingers, say a prayer, ay dios mio, hope for the best. Work hard, learn as much as you can, compete, compete. Hats off to those filmmakers who have this process mastered, you’re my inspiration!!

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