Since 2015, my film students and I have been designing and leading documentary workshops with members of the Piikani, Little Shell, Chippewa Cree, and Crow tribes, building reciprocal trust with them through the sharing of stories, life experiences, spiritual rituals, and documentary filmmaking skills. Circles of Story Circles builds upon these relationships and the cultural experience my students and I accrued while interacting with members of these tribal communities. This experience has raised my awareness about the utmost importance of behaving in a respectful, sensitive, and culturally appropriate manner while interacting cross-culturally. Native Americans have particularly become reluctant to cooperate with non-Native documentary filmmakers and researchers because of the fact they have been often treated as the objects of studies that very rarely benefit Indigenous families and communities. 


Circles of Story Circles is thus committed:

  • To give voice to the stories and experiences of Indigenous peoples, emphasizing community control and tribal sovereignty over the project’s content and methodological approach.
  • To provide Indigenous community members with an outlet to preserve and disseminate their cultural knowledge.
  • To show non-Indigenous documentary filmmakers how to embrace Indigenous ways of knowing and methodologies in the documentary making process as an alternative model to western-centric documentary approaches.
  • To demonstrate how audiovisual storytelling can be used as an act of living resistance and political action.

Lucia's Short Bio

Lucia Ricciardelli is an Associate Professor in the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she teaches film studies and photography theory, and mentors graduate students in the MFA Program in Science & Natural History Documentary Filmmaking. Over the past two decades, Ricciardelli’s research has focused on the use of documentary filmmaking as an act of community engagement and cultural preservation, resulting in publications, conference presentations, and the production of documentary films that seek to raise awareness about social issues such as affordable housing and homelessness. In the past decade, Ricciardelli has helped forge cross-cultural partnership with Montana Indigenous tribes, leading to the production of documentary films to celebrate Native American culture and to help preserve and transmit Native American languages, contributing to tribal efforts to increase their capacity for self-determination. Ricciardelli's approach to these areas of study has been characterized by interdisciplinary methods and has been closely informed by her teaching.

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