By Christina Campodonico
When film director Ian Skorodin noticed that there wasn’t a film festival for Native Americans in Los Angeles, he decided to start his own: LA Skins Fest.
Creating a film festival for, by and about Native Americans, he thought, could generate stronger ties between L.A.’s native community and the entertainment industry.
“It was hard to get notoriety in Los Angeles from studios and networks, so that’s why I created the festival, to maintain a presence,” Skorodin says.
The festival will screen nearly 50 films featuring Native American writers, directors, actors and themes in Culver City this weekend.
A feature showing of “Wind Walkers,” about a group of friends plagued by a malevolent curse in the Florida Everglades, takes place at 8 p.m. Friday and is one of several free festival highlights.
The documentaries “The Marking of a Milestone,” which traces the history of the indigenous people of the lower Colorado River from precolonial to modern times, and “Restoration of the Spirit,” about the damage done by the 1954 dissolution of federal recognition for the Klamath Tribes, will each screen for free from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Films by 20 Native American student filmmakers will screen on Saturday starting at 3 p.m., and there will also be screenings of films by Native American women filmmakers 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Shorts and mini-documentaries will also screen throughout the weekend.
For Skorodin, running the LA Skins Fest is about more than just screening films, it’s also about building a community where Native American indie filmmakers can show their work and build connections through workshops and panels.
In addition to the festival, the L.A. Skins fest offers a youth multimedia program that goes to reservations in the summers to teach kids how to make films, a monthly workshop for native writers, and opportunities for native writers to pitch projects to film executives.
In this way, the LA Skins Fest, now in its ninth year, has evolved from an event that assembles Native American films into a vehicle for inspiring more Native American filmmakers.
“It encourages the filmmakers, gives them the opportunity to screen their work, see it with an audience,” says Skorodin. “And they can grow from that.”
The LA Skins Fest runs through Nov. 15. Screenings are held at Culver Studios, 9336 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Screenings are free, but you must RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org. For a full schedule of films, visit laskinsfest.com.