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12th Annual GIIFF: Uniting Cultures, Shaping America’s Fabric, and Celebrating Indigenous Heritage

12th Annual GIIFF: Uniting Cultures, Shaping America's Fabric, and Celebrating Indigenous Heritage

Magazine, Entertainment

The 12th Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival (GIIFF) has been officially announced and is scheduled to take place from November 10th to 12th, 2023. This groundbreaking initiative is dedicated to supporting and preserving the Garifuna nation and all Indigenous cultures, with the festival being hosted at the Electric Lodge in Venice, California.

GIIFF transcends the realm of a typical cinematic event; it is a powerful platform for showcasing and promoting indigenous films and filmmakers from around the world. By providing a space for their voices to be heard, GIIFF seeks to bridge cultures, foster understanding, and empower indigenous communities through the medium of cinema.

Founder and President of the Film Festival, Freda Sideroff, passionately states, “The essence of our culture is lost if knowledge is not passed down to the next generation.”

The Garifuna people, whose roots trace back to the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent, possess a rich and enduring heritage deserving of global recognition. In 2001, UNESCO declared Garifuna language, dance, and music in Belize to be a “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.” The Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival’s mission is to bring this vibrant culture to the forefront, shedding light on both the struggles and triumphs of the Garifuna nation and indigenous communities worldwide.

GIIFF is not just about showcasing films; it’s a celebration of heritage, resilience, and the power of storytelling. The festival’s opening night on November 10, 2023, features the highly anticipated World Premiere of Lara Jacowski’s thought-provoking documentary, “ESKAWATA KAYAWAI,” with Lara joining for an exclusive Q&A session from Brazil via Zoom. The festival also offers an opportunity to engage with history, such as a live Q&A session with Saladin Allah, the esteemed grandson of the legendary freedom seeker, Rev. Josiah Henson. Saladin will provide an intimate perspective on the film, shedding light on the profound impact of his grandfather’s life.

As the festival continues, audiences can look forward to the World Premiere of “SUGARLANDS” and an engaging panel discussion featuring Bill Flores, Garifuna Duchess, and actor Theodore Mark Martinez.

Saturday’s VIP Celebrity Experience includes the exclusive screening of “AFRICAN REDEMPTION: LIFE AND LEGACY OF MARCUS GARVEY,” followed by a panel session with filmmaker Bilal Morris, Dr. Tejvir Grewal, and Professor Ron Wilkins. Attendees will also have the privilege of attending the premiere of the captivating short film “OUTSIDE THE LINES” and participating in Q&A sessions with renowned individuals such as Keith Robinson, Jermaine Williams, and Darren Lee Campbell.

Esteemed Amazonian leader and Yanomami elder, Davi Kopenawa, will grace the event with his presence after the screening of “MÃRI HI,” a thought-provoking Brazilian film that explores the power of being guided by one’s dreams.

Sunday’s festivities will honor the indigenous land we stand on by showcasing a diverse selection of Native American films that beautifully capture the rich storytelling traditions of Native American culture. Cultural conservation filmmaker Sej Saraiya will lead a thought-provoking panel discussion titled “Film as a Tool for Decolonization.” Esteemed actors Roger Narayan, producer Anil Urmil, and Indigenous activist Sheelah Bearfoot, leader of a UN COP28 Delegation, will contribute their valuable insights to the panel.

12th Annual GIIFF: Uniting Cultures, Shaping America's Fabric, and Celebrating Indigenous HeritageThe festival’s musical performances feature a stellar lineup of talented individuals, including the legendary Belizean music artist, Harrington Trapp, renowned singer and community leader Queen Nzingha Camara, and the Le Ballet de Kouman Kele. “Children of the Rainforest” will host a raffle and Amazonian market, supporting the Yawanawa in preserving their language and culture while caring for the Amazon Rainforest. To culminate the festivities and commemorate Diwali, the festival of lights, renowned Grammy-award-winning musicians Paul Livingstone and Peter Jacobson will grace the stage with a mesmerizing music concert, bringing the festivities to a resplendent close.

This festival offers not only a rich cultural experience but also a platform for networking and obtaining new material for journalists and content creators. Regardless of your background, GIIFF encourages everyone to join in celebrating indigenous art, traditions, and stories. It promises to be an enriching and enlightening experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for indigenous cultures.

12th Annual GIIFF: Uniting Cultures, Shaping America's Fabric, and Celebrating Indigenous Heritage

In essence, the 12th Annual Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival plays a vital role in shaping the cultural fabric of America. It preserves and celebrates Indigenous heritage, empowers voices that have been marginalized, fosters cultural awareness and understanding, and contributes to a more inclusive and empathetic society. By recognizing the importance of festivals like GIIFF, we acknowledge the diverse cultural tapestry that forms the foundation of the United States and strengthen the bonds that connect us all.

Sponsorship, Donation, and Media Credential opportunities are available for this event. Contact

Find the schedule and purchase tickets here.

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