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More than 20 short and feature-length films featuring the stories and perspectives of Indigenous peoples will be showing across Gloucester and Rockport next week during the inaugural Indigenous Heritage Film Festival. The weeklong event is a celebration of the Indigenous history and cultural contributions of Cape Ann’s earliest inhabitants, who have live in the area at least since the last ice age, approximately 10,000 years ago.

The films, which will all be shown for free, include short films and animations, documentaries, mainstream feature films, contemporary television programs, and even comedy and sci-fi films. Several of the films are family-friendly and perfect for sparking important conversations about Indigenous civilizations and how they have often been excluded from dominant narratives. The schedule includes several films followed by comments and question-and-answer sessions with Indigenous filmmakers, producers, and actors.

Filming of After the Mayflower

To reach the largest possible group of residents from Cape Ann and the North Shore, the festival will screen films in a range of venues, including Gloucester High School, Gloucester Stage Company, Sawyer Free Library, Rose Baker Senior Center, Shalin Liu Performance Center, and Cape Ann Cinema. Screenings are scheduled for both mornings and afternoons. All screenings are free to attend, but advance registration is recommended.

The festival was organized in conjunction with Gloucester 400+, the yearlong celebration tied to the 400th anniversary of Gloucester’s settlement by Europeans. Early on, planners of the anniversary event realized that focusing only on the past 400 years would ignore the rich cultural, artistic and humanitarian contributions of the Indigenous peoples who lived here long before 1623, so they added the + to the event name to signal the goal of looking beyond the history of European settlers.