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Alaska Native Filmmaker Wins National Award

Sep 5, 2019 | Alaska Native, Media & Arts, News

Alexis Sallee

Alaska-born, Iñupiaq filmmaker Alexis Sallee’s directorial debut was awarded first place in the national 2019 She Directed Filmmaker contest, selected by voters and judges from more than 400 entries. Sallee’s short film, Who We Are, is about an Iñupiaq artist’s connection to ancestral lands through her painting. The film aims to honor the strength and legacy of Indigenous people.

The contest, a partnership between Women in Film, actress Kate Bosworth, and Chloe Wine Collection, recognizes women in the director’s chair. The top five filmmakers will receive professional mentorship from industry veterans. As the first-place jury award winner, Sallee will also receive a $10,000 cash prize to fund future projects.

“We don’t often see Alaska Natives on screen,” said Sallee. “And when we do, it so rarely depicts who we are as people today. This film is meant to empower Alaska Native people, and I’m honored it was recognized by judges. I’m thrilled to continue telling Alaska Native stories through film.”  

Sallee grew up in Anchorage of Iñupiaq descent. Her love of filmmaking and sound found its start in radio. After attending Full Sail University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Recording Arts, she took her skills to LA. There, she worked in audio post-production on various film and television projects including Oculus, Poltergeist, Birth of the Dragon, NBC’s Allegiance, and the Showtime documentary Play It Forward. She served as co-director and producer of the 2018 documentary Definition of Resilience, which highlights the dynamic stories of Indigenous hip-hop MCs. In 2019, she wrote and directed Who We Are, a personal project dedicated to her Iñupiaq ancestors.

Who We Are was filmed in Nome, Shishmaref, and Anchorage. It was written and directed by Alexis Anoruk Sallee, starring artist Tristan Agnauraq Morgan (Iñupiaq). Cinematography by Tomás Karmelo Amaya (Yoeme, A:shiwi, and Rarámuri), and video edit, color, and sound design by Sallee. Music was provided by Ilakus Drum Group, Evan Geiger, and Trevor Kowalski. The project, supported in part by Koahnic Broadcast Corporation, touches on climate change and its effects on Alaska Native villages.

Sallee also produces the weekly radio program, Indigefi, a production of Koahnic Broadcast Corporation. She continues to work on cultural visual projects that honor Indigenous stories and people.

Watch Sallee’s award-winning short film here: https://theaudienceawards.com/films/who-we-are-59665_1?sh=1563393532Ycwx

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