Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival Will Provide Platform for Marginalized Groups

Courtesy of Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival

Courtesy of Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival

The Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival (GIIFF) returns for its seventh year to Venice, California starting this May 25 to June 3. The festival will bring plenty of short films, documentaries, an art exhibit, and a fashion exhibit to showcase the art of preserving indigenous cultures.

The festival is a five-day event located at the Electric Lodge, 1416 Electric Ave, over the course of two weeks. The film screenings occur during the weekends: May 25-27, and June 2-3.

The art exhibits portraits by Sej Saraiya, “Faces of the Indigenous,” which will be available throughout the entire two weeks. 

The featured films are not limited to any particular indigenous group or indigenous groups in general. Rather, there will be documentaries and short films from all around the globe. 

“This is the uniting of nations,” said Freda Sideroff, the founder of the seven-year GIIFF. There will be movies with stories from the Solomon Islands, Turkey, Germany, Canada, and West Australia, just to name a few. Marginalized groups have their perspectives told through media such as Dangerous Crossings, a music video directed by Amr Salama, that teach about the dangers refugees face as they cross the Red Sea. 

“What's Your Number,” by Sigal Erez, is about an encounter with a Holocaust survivor and a young African-American boy. There will also be “First to Go,” by Myles Matsuno, a short story about one of the first Japanese fathers that was sent to the internment camps throughout the U.S. after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, told by his daughter and great-grandson. 

“We have a film called The Gathering, by Micki Decoff, about the death penalty,” states Sideroff, “About the innocent adults who end up on death row. She [Decoff] will be receiving our lifetime achievement award for her work in social justice.”

Along with the award, art exhibits, documentaries, and short films, there will also be a lecture and a symposium. The first lecture will kick off the festival on May 25, led by Ron Wilkins on the African presence in Mexico. Wilkins will be using his photographic work to present his lecture, which should run for about 45 minutes. 

The symposium is on the following day at noon, focusing on the mental health and well-being of the indigenous people. “Our indigenous people are in need of a platform, and our platform with the film festival exists to be able to support and unite our people,” Sideroff said. “A place they can come for their voices to be heard. This is part of the reason why the symposium exists within the media platform. We all want to be able to experience peace. We all want to experience healing.” 

For the first time, GIIFF has received a mini-grant in honor of the sixth year that the California Dept. of Mental Health has partnered with the festival. This means that all the funding doesn't come straight out of the founders pocket, allowing more funds to provided for those who attend. Tickets cost $8 for students and $25 for the general public. Those interested can find more information on the festival's Eventbrite page or website,

“Our film festival is so rich," Sideroff says. "We are looking for a home, and hoping to partner with educational institutions to be able to screen these films and for students to be able to receive credits for them."