That’s a wrap!

Amid a global pandemic, the 2nd annual Will Rogers Motion Picture Festival celebrates a successful four-day virtual event featuring much-loved celebrities, new films and a broad audience.

The Cherokee Nation Film Office is a proud presenting sponsor honoring the legacy of Cherokee Nation citizen Will Rogers.

If you aren’t familiar with Rogers, he is an influential member of film. Rogers became one of the highest-paid Hollywood actors in the 1930s and is often referred to as “The Cherokee Kid” and “Oklahoma’s Favorite Son.” He was featured in 71 movies over the course of his career, including “Judge Priest,” “Steamboat Round the Bend” and “Life Begins at 40.”

The festival not only honors the legacy of Cherokee Nation citizen Will Rogers, but also highlights the work of current filmmakers.

Illustration of Will Rogers.

“Will Rogers inspired actors, directors and producers in the movie industry,” says Tad Jones, executive director of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Festival. “We hold this festival with the same hope of inspiring others to live their dream in the entertainment industry. We honor and celebrate the hard work and creativity of filmmakers around the world.”

Starting a new film festival is no small feat, but expanding it in year two under these times brings new challenges that were met head on.

While we may miss attending in-person events, virtual film festivals are a great opportunity for people around the world to participate. We’ve seen an increase in reach and visibility for virtual content like never before! For the WRMPF, there were more than 500 streams of the 71 free films that were submitted from eight countries.

The festival also featured panels and the Dog Iron Awards Ceremony. Celebrities, including  Zahn McClarnon, Althea Sam and Reba McIntyre, lent their time and support.

Industry roundtable at the WRMPF.

In case you missed it, a virtual industry roundtable on what’s happening across the board in filmmaking in Oklahoma was featured— including growth, advancements, the movement to add more Natives to the industry and accurate representation, and how COVID-19 has influenced the industry. The roundtable discussion included CNFO, Oklahoma Film + Music Office, Tulsa Office of Film, Music, Arts & Culture, and Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. of the Cherokee Nation, whom we thank for continually supporting Native filmmakers in the film industry. Make sure to check it out.

We also congratulate all the winners! 

CNFO is especially excited about the categories that highlight the important work of Native American filmmakers. Congratulations to the following winners in the Native categories:

  • American Indian Short Winner — “Judaculla Rock,” directed by Cherokee Nation citizen Brit Hensel.
  • American Indian Feature Winner — “Rez Dogs,” directed by Steven Tallas.

For a complete list of the winners, you can visit their website. We can’t wait to see what 2021 has in store for the WRMPF!

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