‘Indigenizing’ Hollywood: How the Sundance Native Lab Is Flipping an Outdated Script

”Hollywood is realizing that the ‘I’ in BIPOC stands for ‘indigenous,'“ Sundance Native film program leader Bird Runningwater says

It’s hard to say whether the term “indigenizing” originated with Indigenous filmmakers, or with entertainment executives currently trying to change the narrative from movie-making’s well-documented stereotyping of Native American characters, most notably in the Hollywood Western.

But two things Native filmmakers who spoke to TheWrap can agree on: One, they joke that the word “indigenizing” is consistently rejected by spellcheck. And two, on a more serious note, whoever coined the term, it’s not about re-writing scripts that conform to Hollywood norms, but calls for building in authenticity from the inception of the project, rather than making changes in scripts that follow a traditional format and derive from mainstream culture.

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Diane Haithman

Diane Haithman

Senior Entertainment Business Reporter • diane@thewrap.com • @dhaithman