Grantee: Erica Tremblay
Native Ancestry: Seneca-Cayuga Nation
Location: New York, N.Y.
Award: 2016 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline: Artistic Innovation
Web Site: ericajtremblay.com
Tremblay is a filmmaker and the co-founder of Homespun Pictures. Her films have been featured on PBS and the Independent Film Channel. Erica’s most recent film, In the Turn, received numerous awards including Best Feature Film and Best Documentary at several film festivals. She has been featured on CNN and Vice and was recently named a “Woman You Should Know” by WYSK.com. She is interested in telling stories that impact change by creatively tackling tough topics and portraying the people fighting for justice.
Erica Tremblay comes from a long line of storytellers, which drew her to the art of documentary filmmaking. Her mother taught her that she had a responsibility to think critically about the world’s news and stories because she was the next generation of orators. Tremblay was coached that parts of history and knowledge would be lost without orators. She took this lesson to heart and has been seeking to fulfill that responsibility ever since.
Erica’s journey of critical investigation of oppression began when she found that the rich Native American history she learned from her schoolteacher mother conflicted with the harsh reality and Native experience of systemic oppression through poverty, relocation, and racism. Digging deeper, Tremblay discovered that her disparity actually lay with the politics of the U.S. Government towards tribes. Finding her passion, Erica received a multicultural leadership scholarship and earned a journalism degree from Missouri State.
For her subjects Erica Tremblay selects sensitive and under-the-rug topics, such as abuse of women, male role models and two-spirits. Erica has a very distinct visual style, with an eye for in-depth story telling from an alternative perspective. Despite the tough topics she chooses, she places a positive, inspiring spin that also enlightens and educates audiences.
Her most recent short documentary, Sexual Assault in Indian Country, examines the epidemic of non-Native perpetrators committing acts of violence against Native women and children on Indian lands. This film screened at the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women. Another of her films about a transgender youth screened at 58 festivals worldwide and has now secured distribution.
With the support from the fellowship, Tremblay will film members of Native activist organizations as they work towards legal changes for the protection of Native women and work on another project that examines the definition of healthy masculinity. Footage captured at a recent protest at the U.S. Supreme Court has already been requested for screenings at the UN and the White House. She will also produce a documentary on the work of Wica Agli in promoting a traditional understanding of Native masculinity in a time when violence against women and children occurs all too frequently.
I make films to reconcile the past of my ancestors with my present-day heroes.
~ Erica Tremblay