“I Can Create and Be Grounded in My Own Path”: Tiare Ribeaux on Sundance Native Lab 2022
With the Sundance Native Lab having returned to a (hybrid) in-person model for the first time in two years, Filmmaker asked 2022 fellows to reflect on their recent experiences through short diary entries. Read the rest of the 2022 cohort’s responses.
Sundance Native Lab was a transformative time that deeply reaffirmed my practice, giving me confidence in my work that I never had before. A huge part of it was being grounded by other Indigenous writers in my cohort and in the care of such amazing leaders such as Moi—I felt I was in a safe space to share my script in its raw form, to be vulnerable and to be myself and hold true to my culture and identity without it ever being in question. Within the Lab I felt like I could expand my wings creatively and that I had permission to write my story on my own terms, and not within the confines that I had felt limited to before. It felt really nourishing to not have to over-explain things related to my Indigeneity, and to instead be in a group with shared experiences who could understand where I was coming from with similar beliefs and values.
It was also deeply meaningful to have the chance to read other scripts written by Indigenous screenwriters—whose stories all spoke to me and made me feel seen. To be in conversation with other Polynesians around the world was an incredible experience—to hear how similar our languages are, our practices and our shared understanding of Aloha/Aroha/Alofa/’Ofa as a deeply unique and needed perspective in the world. Through our writing and our conversations over the week, it became more and more clear how important our stories and our voices are in the world as Indigenous people. Through our time together and sharing our work I felt like I was able to find true kinship among my cohort and build connections that will last a lifetime.
We had incredible mentorship and guidance throughout Native Lab. For me, it was deeply important to have mentorship from other Indigenous women filmmakers, both to feel I was in a safe space as well as to hear about their experiences. To see how their work in filmmaking has shaped the world and what impact they could have was inspiring and impactful for me. Getting to hear Erica Tremblay speak about her career choices before getting into film that mirrored my own; it was re-affirming to know how as Indigenous women, we can make a path for ourselves and find success on our own terms. To see how her career has been supported by her experience in Native Lab and how she has found great success later in life helped me to believe that finding this for myself was truly possible as well. My one-on-one session with Shaandiin [Tome] was very powerful as well—especially to hear how my script landed with her in terms of family and community and its instinctual nature—to be able to hear that she understood where I was coming from and that the story resonated with her gave me a new sense of belief and purpose in my work. Patrick and Bernardo, our other fantastic mentors, gave incredible advice around technical aspects of my writing, as well as structural approaches that were things I had shied away from because I felt they were too risky, that I now feel confident to re-approach my work through. They gave me new perspectives in which to approach my work and reminded me through their non-traditional pathways into filmmaking that I can create and be grounded in my own path as well.
Native Lab has truly gifted me both a toolkit to evolve my work to the best it can be, while also introducing me to what feels like an extended family. I have a newfound confidence in my work and my path and know in my na’au (heart, gut, mind) that I am doing the work that I am meant to be doing.
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