The Tribal Student Film Festival promotes passion and a no quit attitude

Artist: Buffalo Gouge

Founder and Executive Director Celia Xavier introduces us to the inaugural Tribal Student Film Festival

Please tell us a little bit about the idea behind the Tribal Student Film Festival.
We are an affiliate of Tribal Film Festival, which just had its inaugural festival in September 2015.

I am the CEO of a new broadband channel called TribalTV, a super distribution network for only Indigenous content across all online platforms.  We see what is being made, shown & distributed.  There are many documentaries, but not a lot of narrative features or other genres in Native films.  Looking down the road we don't see as much film production as we could have.  So we have partnered with CreatorUP, to training our youth by inspiring them first, training them in Digital Storytelling, then sustaining their interest and productivity -in whatever capacity- in the field of producing Indigenous content.  Our pilot program will be next year with a group of Native American (Johnson-O'Mally) students from Vinita, OK.  But the inception, I must give credit to Gerald Woffard, founder of the Red Fork Film Festival that's been running for 10 years in Tulsa, OK.  Simultaneously we were working on the same idea but his was for a Student festival and mine was for Tribal Film Festival in Tahlequah, OK.

Is the festival open to a specific region, or is there an international feel?
We encourage students from all over the world to participate and enter their films.

Is there something in particular that you look for in submissions? Or are there multiple factors?
The projects have to have Indigenous content.

Can you tell us a little about the drive of students who enter their films?
The students have no problem with the technology of today, which has made it easier and less expensive to make films.  We look for those who have follow through and passion and a no quit attitude.  Because its the passion that will carry one through the tough times during a production.

Do you have an interesting story that has taken place during a past festival?
Next year will be our first Tribal Student Festival but during Tribal Film Festival -there were war stories.

We planned an opening night Red Carpet Reception w/live Jazz band followed by several short films that featured local residents.   It was a big deal as some didn't know what a Red Carpet Reception was or gone to one before.  We had a local winery sponsor the wine and we had  a Silent Auction that benefitted this Student Film Festival.

The day before, I find out they shipped my Red Carpet & Step Repeat to California - the morning of the Reception Jazz band pulls out and hours before the Winery calls to say we have a problem because of the archaic OKLA liquor laws.

So I had no Red Carpet, no wine and no band for opening night Red Carpet wine & cheese tasting Reception.   On top of that one of the short films was not transferring for us to burn a DVD for the screening that night.  And it was the favorite one that had the most people coming to see it.

I prayed.  And prayed some more.  And tried to keep calm.  The Step repeat was able to be overnighted, the Jazz band was back in after I told them I didn't want them, the wine got dropped off after much debate, and the short film finally transferred & burned to a DVD  - about an hour late but we were able to show it.  Miracles.

How is your festival received locally in Oklahoma?
The people really appreciated it and are still talking about it.  It's a big deal as they felt it was something that was done for the people, by the people and there wasn't anything political about it.

Where do you see or would like to see your Festival in 5 years?
We see this growing to other venues in town, possibly outdoors since its summer and there is a University  - all within walking distance to our Main Street.

Please share some advice for student filmmakers.
Story first.  Make sure you are telling an interesting story with a beginning, middle and an end.  Our voice has become so loud that the time has come for it to come out.









For all the Student filmmakers

The Tribal Student Film Festival will take place next year, Sept 2,3,4 2016, during the Tribal Film Festival.

Visit for details on how to submit your film.