“Groundworks,” a new documentary by California Institute of the Arts alums Justine Garrett (Critical Studies MFA 2006) and Ian Garrett (Theater MFA 2008), airs on multiple U.S. public television stations this month. In Southern California the film was broadcast on KCET on Tuesday, Oct. 4 and will air on PBS SoCal on Oct. 10-11, coinciding with Indigenous People’s Day.
The film documents four Native performers as they commemorate San Francisco’s first official Indigenous People’s Day with oral history and traditional dance on Alcatraz Island in 2018.
In a yearlong collaborative process, the Garretts worked through their production company Toasterlab to provide media production, directing, writing, design and technical advising, media installation, and scenography services for the documentary, live performance, and virtual reality aspects of Groundworks.
“Throughout the development residencies, the creation of the dance performance, and the documentary, Toasterlab’s role has been to support our Indigenous collaborators and bring attention to their important work,” said Director and Producer Ian Garrett.
Inspired by the contemporary dance company Dancing Earth Creations, the hour-long documentary chronicles the multidecade fight for Native people’s rights and land reclamation efforts through the Land Back Movement. Woven into the documentary are the stories and performances of artists and activists from First Nations of Ramaytush Ohlone and diverse Ohlone bands, Pomo, Miwok, Wappo and Tongva people.
“Groundworks” showcases performances by Ras K’dee (Pomo), Bernadette Smith (Pomo), Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Ohlone), and L. Frank (Tongva-Acjachemen). Alongside the Garretts, the production team includes co-producer and writer Tiśina Ta-till-ium Parker (Miwuk/Paiute/Kashia Pomo), editor Tia Taurere Clearsky (Ngā Puhi/Te Aupoūri Nations of Aotearoa—New Zealand), and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Don Schroeder as consulting producer.
Music in the documentary is created specifically for the original performance by Smith, K’dee and his band Audiopharmacy and Esmé Olivia.
The film will be distributed by American Public Television and Vision Maker Media, the premier source of public media by and about Native Americans.
View the trailer of “Groundworks.”