Actress Tantoo Cardinal will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and introduce the film Falls Around Her at the 2019 Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, on Saturday, October 19th at 6:30 pm. The 11th Annual Santa Fe Independent Film Festival takes place October 16th to 20th, 2019 in downtown Santa Fe.
Distinguished Santa Fe Independent Film Festival Advisory Board Chair, Gary Farmer, says Cardinal is “a staunch worker for Indigenous people’s rights and well-being who happens to be a unique inspirational [and] phenomenal actor.” During 2019 SFIFF’s Lifetime Achievement Award celebration, Cardinal will receive the coveted Tin-Pie award. She will then introduce Falls Around Her, a biopic centered on the life of legendary singer and Anishinaabe musician, Mary Birchbark. Falls Around Her, directed by Darlene Naponse (also Anishinaabe), authentically portrays the complexities of Birchbark’s character without relying on conventional indigenous imagery, allowing Cardinal’s long-cultivated talents to shine in her first lead role in a feature length film.
The Canadian-born Cree/Métis actor is considered by many to be the most influential indigenous actress of her generation. Cardinal has been a Member of the Order of Canada for a decade, a title that is designated as the second highest civilian honor in Canada. Made famous by the Oscar-winning Best Picture, Dances with Wolves (1990), Cardinal continued to accept indigenous roles, seeking to combat harmful on-screen stereotypes against her people. Throughout 48 years of cinematic performances, Cardinal has contributed more than 100 roles to film and television, including feature films Wind River (2017) and Legends of the Fall (1994), and premium shows like Westworld, Godless, and Longmire.
Cardinal’s many unique roles have required her to speak in a number of First Nations languages, including Apache, Gwich’in, Paiute, Cherokee, and Ojibwe. She worked with elders and people who spoke these languages and relayed their meaning to the best of her ability, honoring the languages, their history and meaning. Cardinal was cast as a Cree character in Through Black Spruce (2018), where she delighted in speaking a familiar native language of her mother and grandmother.
In 2017, Cardinal won the Earle Grey Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Canadian Screen Awards, and in 2018, she received the Technicolor Clyde Gilmour Award presented by the Toronto Film Critics Association (TFCA). It’s the first time an actor has earned this accolade.