California American Indian & Indigenous Film Festival

This is the third year that I have volunteered in the California American Indian and Indigenous Film Festival (CAIIFF) as an American Indian Student Alliance (AISA) member, but this year will be my first time as the president of AISA. It was a requirement that I attend this festival for this class, but due to the fact that I was a volunteer coordinator and sales manager I was unfortunately not able to watch any films. I did get the chance to watch the 1491’s, an American Indian comedy group on Friday, but that was because we had extra volunteers to work that night. So, the question is, what do I blog about when it comes to this festival? Behind the scenes action it is!

On the surface, the guests that come to see the films, q&a sessions, and the youth track see the volunteers and myself be very professional from the time we setup to the time we take down. We make sure all guests are taken care of as efficiently as possible and after three years we are figuring out what works and what doesn’t. We are early to the festival each day to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible so that the guests are happy, and we are there late to make sure that we are as organized as possible for the next day. This usually means that we don’t get done taking down everything until around eleven thirty and don’t get to bed until maybe twelve thirty in the morning the next day. It is especially important to be organized for the third day when the festival is at Pechanga Resort and Casino.

Beneath the surface, every volunteer coordinator and commander is running around making things up as we go to see what it is that needs to be done, so everyone gets plenty of exercise. However, I noticed that this year we were not as hectic as we were the previous two years that we organized this festival. The first two years, no one had the chance to sit down or relax, but this year we had so much down time during the films that the student coordinators a.k.a AISA members were complaining about not bringing our homework. It was nice being able to sit for a while during films and get the chance to hang out, especially with the directors, producers, actors, and the 1491’s. That is a big plus for being the coordinators that help plan the festival. We get to know the special guests without them having to play a part, and it is always a blast! We always get to ask personal questions about the film business and I definitely appreciate the chance to ask because I love photography and film. Any help and advice I can get is awesome!

I think that the one thing I loved most about this years festival besides the awesome 1491’s is that AISA got to relax a little bit during the films and we got to have fun at the festival like everyone else. My most fond memory will be that on the third day, at Pechanga, during the last film of the night,  some of the AISA members and I played a game on a tablet called heads up. If anyone passed by and saw us playing the game they would have dropped on the floor in laughter. I know I almost did a couple times! So far, this was the best film festival yet and I can’t wait until next year, but I could do without the stress.

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