Grantee: Christen Marquez
Through the fusion of cultures in my work, I intend to carry the message of non-indigenous and indigenous communities alike, that we refuse to be fossilized. – Christen Marquez
Christen Marquez is a young filmmaker working to dispel the “Exotic Other” myths that surround indigenous peoples. Her first short film was selected to screen at the Sundance Film Festival’s Gen-Y studio before she had completed her BFA in Film and TV production at NYU Tisch. After earning her degree, she founded Paradocs Productions and began producing and directing documentary works. In 2011, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation honored her with a NACF Artist Fellowship in Film. Support from the foundation allowed Marquez to complete her first full-length documentary film, “E Haku Inoa: To Weave a Name.”
The film follows a young, multi-racial Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) woman on a voyage of self-discovery to reconnect with her estranged Mother and learn the meaning of her lengthy, 63 character name. Spending time with her mother, who suffers from schizophrenia, gives Marquez a new perspective on the idea of sanity and how cultural differences can muddle its definition.
Near the close of her fellowship year, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders invited Marquez to present an excerpt of her work as part of the “What’s Your Story” competition. Film festivals around the globe have screened the finished film, which was broadcast nationally on public television stations in the United States. The first broadcast on PBS in late 2012 reached over 8,000 viewers.