First Encounter judged best at Trail Dance Film Festival

DUNCAN, Okla. – First Encounter, the first film in the Chickasaw Heritage Series earned top honors as Best Short Documentary at the Trail Dance Film Festival in January.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said it is important to note the documentary tells the story from the Chickasaw point of view.

“We believe our tribe’s first encounter with Europeans is a great place to begin this series,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “In coming years, we plan to produce additional documentaries which will offer additional insight into the role the Chickasaw people have played in American history.”

First Encounter chronicles the Chickasaws’ introduction to European explorers in 1540, the tense relationship between the tribe and conquistador Hernando de Soto’s expedition, and the fiery battle between them that virtually ended de Soto’s mission.

“Hernando de Soto is a significant historical figure who had a profound effect on the Chickasaw Nation and the history of North America,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “While our first encounter with De Soto has been told from other points of view, we believe our perspective adds significant context to the historical narrative.”
The Trail Dance Film Festival is a globally-recognized premiere film event held annually in Duncan. It began in 2006 as a way of showcasing Oklahoma as a major filming destination and to spotlight Oklahomans in the movie industry. It has since transformed into a national and international competition.

The award comes just as the Chickasaw Nation is making First Encounter available on DVD release to the general public. Currently, it is available for purchase at the Wider distribution is planned.

The tribe’s first foray into film-making was in 2010 with release of the 107-minute, critically-acclaimed motion picture Pearl, celebrating the early life of Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductee Pearl Carter Scott. She became the youngest pilot in the United States to fly solo Sept. 12, 1929. She was 13 and trained under famed aviator Wiley Post. Pearl may be purchased at Amazon and other major outlets.

The Chickasaw Nation completed filming Te Ata in October 2014. The movie is in post-production. A release date has not been announced. It shares the story of Te Ata Thompson Fisher, a Chickasaw entertainer and storyteller, an inductee in both the Oklahoma and Chickasaw Nation halls of fame and Oklahoma’s first “Treasure” in 1987.

Cast members include actress Q’Orianka Kilcher as Te Ata; Gil Birmingham and Oscar-nominated actor Graham Greene.

In a scene from First Encounter, Chickasaw warriors prepare to rain arrows on Hernando de Soto’s expedition. The film, the first in the Chickasaw Heritage Series, was judged Best Short Documentary at the Trail Dance Film Festival.