Films and shorts revolving around the self-determination of Indigenous people took center stage this week at the Roxie Theater Virtual Cinema in San Francisco. The event was well-enough received that it has been extended through October 22, 2020.

In honor of Indigenous Peoples' Day, and the 50th Anniversary of the occupation of Alcatraz, the Roxie Theater in San Francisco put on the A.I.M. WEST International Film Festival 2020 which was originally scheduled to run from October 12 to 15, but was extended due to the popularity of the event.

Image Courtesy of A.I.M. West International Film Festival 

The Festival was centered around two feature-length films that not only take you into the lives of Indigenous people who have been dealing with centuries of dehumanizing oppression, but that also offered strong calls to action.

The film Gather is an intimate look at the growing movement amongst Native Americans to reclaim their spiritual, political, and cultural identities. The tribe members band together to achieve tough goals by pursuing food preparation and farming techniques their ancestors used to thrive off the land across the United States.

Image Courtesy of A.I.M. West International Film Festival 

Through other activities like studying indigenous medicines and conducting landmark research on bison, the Native Americans discover that learning about their roots is a therapeutic way to deal with the trauma of centuries of genocide as well as the current oppression that still haunts their tribes.

The second feature film The Doctrine of Discovery: Unmasking the Domination Code takes an intense dive into how Christian law in the 15th Century allowed for the brutal slaughter of Indigenous people as long as it was for the good of the church. It challenges Christians to ask themselves whether they are ok with the law that stated that the killing of Indigenous people was allowed if they would not convert to Christianity.

The festival was rounded out by three short films on various topics.

The festival was put on by AIM-West (American Indian Movement-West), a San Francisco organization devoted to raising the spirit of resistance to colonization, respect for traditional knowledge and self-determination, and a commitment to inter-tribalism.

All of the proceeds from the festival benefitted “Intertribal Friendship House” (IFH) located in Oakland. Established in 1955, it was one of the first urban American Indian community centers in the nation. It continues to serve the needs of American Indian people relocated from reservations to the San Francisco Bay Area.