The Hibulb Cultural Center held their sixth annual film festival on Sept. 22, providing both tribal and non-tribal local filmmakers a chance to show their art.

Lena Jones, education curator at the center, said that the festival was started "to give filmmakers an opportunity to show their work."

This year the event received nine films. The submissions came from places ranging from Tulalip to Canada, and a number of Native American filmmakers submitted pieces.

Tulalip Tribal member David Spencer Sr. usually submits a film to the event and did this year as well.

"Most videos I submit I sing, so I like that I get a chance to share my songs," said Spencer. "I have a lot of Lushootseed [the language of the Coast Salish people] songs that come to me and I like to share."

Originally he wasn't planning on submitting a film this year. "Then I had these dreams, these songs were coming to me and I told my mate that 'well, I better go do this video,'" he said.

Spencer's film "I am Frog" won best in show this year. His film was about how people have to work cooperatively if they are to going to do 'spiritual work.'

"All creatures despise each other. They despise the frog, the frog despises them. But when it comes to spiritual work, we all come together," he said.

The theme for this year's festival was "Frog Catches a Song."

Robin Carneen, who has been a judge for the festival the last three years, said the theme was about the canoe journeys she has taken.

Although raised in California, Carneen said she learned she was Swinomish and came to the Pacific Northwest to return to her tribe.

"I would go on the canoe journey, that they hold annually, where they sing a lot of songs," she said.

That sense of sharing songs with the world around you was what inspired the 'Frog Catches a Song' theme.

She said she appreciated the ability of the film festival to help with highlighting local culture as well.

"I love that Tulalip has this cultural center and museum, because we need to have a presence and a place for people to come and learn about us from our perspective and from our history," said Carneen.

"This film festival offers a really great avenue for that," she said.

Jones said that the festival always receives a number of different entries.

"It's pretty fun and interesting to get films and see them," she said. "We get a variety of films, the creativity of people is fascinating."

Local tribal filmmakers often incorporate aspects of their culture as well, such as Spencer's film this year.

"It's always great because he includes a lot of our teaching in his films and it's great how he can combine a good message with an artful composition," said Jones.

Preserving some of those cultural pieces is also important work, said Carneen.

"For Native people, we're very oral and a lot of the stories are gone," she said.

"What's amazing now is that we can encapsulate those stories in film and they'll be here forever, and I think that's really important, to preserve those stories," she said.

Jones said that the original idea behind the festival was to encourage local young filmmakers.

"My sons were interested in filmmaking and at the Boys & Girls Club and Heritage High School they were having filmmaking classes, so I thought it would be great if we had a place to have them enter their films," she said.

The center highlights a local film each month and plans to hold their festival again next year. Carneen said she hopes local filmmakers will submit their work.

"We're trying to encourage more people to utilize this facility and this opportunity," she said.

For more information on the center's featured film or how to submit a film, contact Lena Jones at the Hibulb Cultural Center at 360-716-2640.

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