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“Dancing On Mother Earth” to show at Westcott Cinema
“Dancing On Mother Earth” to show at Westcott CinemaFebruary 26, 2004Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
“Dancing On Mother Earth,” the PBS documentary on singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah, will have its first local screening at the Westcott Cinema, 524 Westcott St., Feb. 26 at 6 pm. Tula Goenka, film production professor at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, produced and edited the film, which has been shown on PBS stations in New York City, Rochester and Buffalo. It has also been in several film festivals, including the prestigious Smithsonian Native American Film and Video Festival in December 2003.
“Here in Syracuse, WCNY chose not to air this documentary, saying it was not a balanced portrait – even though we asked representatives of the Oneida Nation for interviews and were denied,” says Goenka. “WCNY’s opportunity to participate in an open forum was lost. We’re so pleased that Westcott has stepped in.”
The documentary focuses on Shenandoah and her family through 2000-01, a year of turmoil as the Oneida Nation faced internal conflict. According to Goenka, “Dancing” portrays the fight for survival of the human spirit and the struggle of indigenous people for their rightful place in modern day society; Shenandoah’s story symbolizes the larger struggle for human rights and the quest to keep traditional culture alive among Native American people, Oneidas in particular. The film also highlights Joanne’s close ties to her family, ancestry and womanhood as she juggles her musical career with the ongoing dispute over land and power among the Oneidas and the controversy surrounding the Turning Stone Casino.
“Dancing On Mother Earth” is produced by 2pEEps Productions, an independent company. It is directed and filmed by Jim Virga, who currently teaches at the University of Georgia in Athens. Suggested donations for the screening are $5.