The NATIVe Fellows Programme is a rare fellowship/lab opportunity exclusive to Indigenous feature film producers or producing directors to have their project(s) promoted through the NATIVe Indigenous Cinema Stand and to participate in a curated programme for the producer to make the most of their time at the EFM.
Nia Tero is proud to be a NATIVe Fellows Sponsoring Partner with other institutions such as: FILM.GL, Indigenous Media Initiatives, Indigenous Screen Office, International Sàmi Film Institute, imagineNATIVE, Pacific Islanders in Communications, Sundance Institute, Vision Maker Media, Winda Film Festival.
Scott W. Kekama Amona, homegrown on the island of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, is a former educator turned award-winning Kanaka Maoli director, producer, and screenwriter. Native Hawaiian perspectives and values of aloha (unconditional compassion), moʻokūʻauhau (genealogical connectivity as the past before us), makawalu (eight-eye mindset), and aloha ʻāina (love for and connection to the land) are guiding stars for his creative works.
A previous fellow of the Sundance Native Shorts Lab, Good Pitch Hawaiʻi, and inaugural IllumiNative Producers Program in partnership with Netflix, Kekama was also one of eight Native Hawaiian writer-directors selected for the inaugural Makawalu feature film project with Hawaiʻi International Film Festival (HIFF) in collaboration with producers Sarah Kim and Brown Sugar Apple Grunt (BSAG) Productions to create a narrative portmanteau film around tourism’s impact on Hawaiian identity. Kekama previously produced Justyn Ah Chong’s award-winning short Down on the Sidewalk in Waikīkī and is an associate producer on Alika Tengan’s upcoming feature Molokaʻi Bound. His short E Mālama Pono, Willy Boy premiered at the 2022 imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, winning the audience award at the 2022 Hawaiʻi International Film Festival and the 2023 Māoriland Film Festival, and is in script development for Kekama’s first feature-length narrative titled Keke.
Tsanavi Spoonhunter is a reporter and nonfiction filmmaker. Spoonhunter was born and raised by her Paiute peoples in Central California, but is also a proud citizen of the Northern Arapaho Tribe of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming. Her ancestry and upbringing in Indian Country have strongly informed her storytelling and artistic vision. Spoonhunter earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada, Reno; and an M.J. from the University of California, Berkeley with a documentary film concentration. Since then, her short films have screened on Alaska Airlines, at the National Museum of the American Indian, The Redford Center, art museums and PBS affiliates.
Presently, she serves as director and producer on her first feature-length documentary titled Holder of the Sky (2025). In 2023, Spoonhunter became a Firelight Media Documentary Lab fellow and a Woodstock Film Festival resident. As a Northern Arapaho and Paiute reporter and filmmaker, she understands the impact that the media industry can have on individuals and communities. With that in mind, her goal is to pursue the highest levels of accuracy and ethical standards when crafting stories that contribute to solution-based coverage.
Heather has dedicated her life to documenting, preserving, and sharing stories about Hawaiʻi. An award-winning producer, she has created numerous projects including several series:
Family Ingredients, a multicultural food, travel and family series hosted by Chef Ed Kenney and broadcast on national PBS; On Target, a magazine style health series hosted by kānaka maoli and broadcast in Hawaiʻiʻ; Enduring Pride which covered the history, culture and language of kānaka maoli, broadcast in Hawaiʻi.
Heather produced several documentaries, among them are. One Voice, directed by Lisette Flanary, a one-hour documentary following ten young Native Hawaiian high school students for one year as they prepare to compete in the annual Kamehameha Schools Song Contest to celebrate the revitalization of the Hawaiian language. Under A Jarvis Moon with Noelle Kahanu, a documentary film about how young men, mostly of Hawaiian origin, were sent in the 1930s and 1940s to colonize Jarvis, Howland and Baker islands. Both documentaries aired on PBS.
Her live television work includes: The Kamehameha Schools Song Contest, an annual broadcast of a high school singing competition - all in ōlelo Hawaiʻi. Merrie Monarch Festival, the world’s largest hula festival live broadcast.
Heather contributed to the creation of an archive, home to 70,000 media items that represents the history of Hawaiʻi from the 1920s known as ‘Ulu’ulu, Hawai’I’s Moving Image Archive.
Colleen Thurston is a documentary storyteller and film programmer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her films explore the relationships between humans and the natural world and focus on Indigenous stories and perspectives. She holds an MFA from Montana State University’s Science and Natural History Filmmaking program, where she also earned a graduate certificate in American Indian Studies. Her BA in Media Arts and Anthropology is from the University of Arizona. She is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma where she teaches documentary studies and film production.
Colleen has produced work for the Smithsonian Channel, Vox, illumiNATIVE and museums, public television stations, and federal and tribal organizations. Her work has screened at international film festivals and the Smithsonian Institution and been broadcast nationwide. Colleen is in production on her first feature documentary Drowned Land which explores water rights and the history of resource exploitation in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Drowned Land is supported by ITVS, Vision Maker Media, Firelight Media, Nia Tero, the Redford Center, and the Sundance Institute.
Colleen currently serves as the project coordinator for the Indigenous video series, Native Lens, a collaboration between Rocky Mountain PBS and KSUT Tribal Radio and is a programmer for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
Colleen is a 2019-2021 Firelight Media doc lab fellow, a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Fund Fellow, and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.
Christen strives to create films that spark empathy for and empowerment in underrepresented communities. With her films, Christen does not aim to create a window for her viewers to gaze through, but she wants her viewers to be moved to action.
She was a Producer on the fourth season of the CNN series United Shades of America, which won the 2019 Emmy for Unstructured Reality Program, and was a part of the Producing team for Belly of the Beast, a documentary feature film about modern day coerced sterilization taking place California womenʼs prisons, which premiered on the documentary series Independent Lens on PBS and won the 2021 Emmy for Outstanding Current Affairs Documentary. Her Directorial debut documentary film, E Haku Inoa: To Weave A Name, was completed in partnership with PBS Hawai`i, ITVS, and Pacific Islanders in Communications.
She has worked over 10 years as a Director and Producer for broadcasters including Discovery, Nat Geo, PBS, Oxygen, CNN, NBC Universal, and Netflix. She has been awarded the “Through the Soul of an Artist'' grant for Artistic Innovation by the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and participated in CPB/PBS Producer's Academy. In 2018 she was awarded a Big Sky Native Film Fellowship and included in the 4th World Media Lab to workshop and develop her current documentary project tentatively titled Lucky We Live Hawaii.
Zack Khalil is a filmmaker and artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. His work centers Indigenous narratives in the present—and looks towards the future—using innovative nonfiction forms.
His debut feature film INAATE/SE/ (2016), co-directed by his brother Adam Khalil, premiered as the closing night film of the Museum of Modern Art’s Doc Fortnight film festival, and won the Best Director award at the Tulsa American Film Festival. Their follow up short film, The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets, originally commissioned for the Contour Biennial, screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018 and is a Vimeo Staff Pick. Khalil is also a core contributor to New Red Order, a public-secret society which calls attraction toward Indigeneity into question, yet promotes this desire, and enjoins potential non-Indigenous accomplices to participate in the co- examination and expansion of Indigenous agency.
His work has been exhibited at Museum of Modern Art, Lincoln Center, Walker Arts Center, Artists Space, Toronto Biennial 2019, and Whitney Biennial 2019, among other institutions. Khalil is the recipient of various fellowships and grants, including but not limited to: the Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, Sundance Art of Nonfiction Grant, and Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Kumu Hina is a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and filmmaker who uses digital media to protect and perpetuate Indigenous languages and traditions. She began her film work as a protagonist and educational advisor for the award winning films Kumu Hina and A Place in the Middle, and received a National Education Association Human Rights Award, Native Hawaiian Educator of the year and White House Champion of Change for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films.
Continuing her journey to the other side of the lens, Kumu Hina produced the PBS/ARTE feature documentary Leitis in Waiting and award-winning short Lady Eva about her transgender sisters in the Kingdom of Tonga. Hina is also a transgender health advocate, burial council chair, candidate for the Board of Trustees of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and composer of “Ku Haaheo E Kuu Hawaii,” the internationally known anthem for the protection of Mauna Kea.
Erica is an award-winning writer and director from the Seneca-Cayuga Nation. Her short film Little Chief premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and was included on IndieWire’s top 10 must-see short films at the fest. Tremblay was a 2018 Sundance Native Film Lab Fellow and she is currently a 2021 Sundance Screenwriters Lab fellow with her feature film Fancy Dance. She was recently honored as a 40 Under 40 Native American. Tremblay lives on Cayuga Lake in upstate New York where she is studying her Indigenous language.
Yolanda Cruz (Chatino) from Mexico – Yolanda is the Director, Writer, and Producer of El Camino de Esperanza (Hope’s Journey), an experimental narrative that shifts the emotional perspective of both the viewer and the viewed by its attention to an epic landscape, traditions of the faithful, and the intimacy of fear.
(Ngāti Māoate, Ngāti Tamarua o Takitumu, Ngāti Paerangi o Ngamaru) from the Cook Islands – Sharlene is the producer of Billy & the Kids, a documentary, turned narrative feature length film about Billy, a kid who grew up rough but was saved by his boxing coach Dick Dunn. Now his five gym academies are saving kids just like him.