August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Indigenous urge Robert Redford to drop Chase Bank as Sundance Film Festival sponsor



Hello,

I, David Felix Sutcliffe, a Sundance-supported filmmaker, along with Michelle Cook, a Dine' (Navajo) human rights lawyer and founder of the Indigenous-led divestment campaign Divest Invest Protect, are releasing an open letter next week in advance of the 2021 Sundance Film festival.

The letter asks Robert Redford -- a well known environmentalist and supporter of Indigenous storytellers -- to sever the relationship between Sundance and Chase Bank, one of the festival's primary corporate sponsors. Chase is the number one funder of fossil fuel extraction projects in the US, and has invested nearly $200 billion into climate-crisis-causing projects since 2017.


The letter not only addresses Chase's fiscal entanglement with the climate crisis, but with the warzone levels of violence and dramatically escalated sex trafficking surrounding these pipeline projects, and community resistance.

We're hoping to gather signatures from key partners before we publish the letter on Medium.com (anticipated publishing date: September 7, 2020). Please feel free to circulate the letter and link for signatures amongst trusted partners. Join us in signing on to the letter herebit.ly/CutChaseltr

Best,
 David Felix Sutcliffe and Michelle Cook

David Felix Sutcliffe (he/him)
www.davidfelixsutcliffe.com

Dear Sundance: Protect Our Planet - #CutChase and all Fossil Fuel Funders
Open Letter To Robert Redford and Sundance Trustees from Indigenous Peoples, Sundance-Supported Filmmakers, and Concerned Allies requesting Immediate Climate Action

To: Robert Redford
CC: Pat Mitchell, Jeanne Donovan Fisher, Kenneth Cole, Ryan Coogler, Amy Redford, Geoffrey K. Sands and all other Sundance Trustees
Subject: #CutChase

From:
Michelle Cook - (Dine'/Navajo human rights lawyer, founder of Divest.Invest.Protect.)
David Felix Sutcliffe ((T)ERROR co-director, Sundance 2015)
Michelle Latimer (Algonquin/Metis, Nuuca director, Sundance 2018)
Christina D. King (Creek/Seminole, Warrior Women co-director, Time Warner Native Producing Fellow, 2014)
Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment director, Sundance 2018)
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon (Quest producer, Sundance 2017)
Jon Olshefski (Quest director, Sundance 2017)
Bing Liu (Minding the Gap director, Sundance 2018)
Alexandria Bombach (On Her Shoulders director, Sundance 2018)
Alison Klayman (The Brink director, Sundance 2019)
Laura Nix (Inventing Tomorrow director, Sundance 2018)
Robert Greene (Bisbee '17 director, Sundance 2018)
Jeremy Yaches (We The Animals producer, Sundance 2018)
Pamela Yates (500 Years director, Sundance 2017)
Pacho Velez (The Reagan Show director, Sundance Doc Fund 2015)
Erika Cohn (In Football We Trust director, Sundance 2015)
Lana Wilson (Miss Americana director, Sundance 2020)
Mayuran Tiruchelvam (To Be Takei producer, Sundance 2014)
Musa Syeed (The Dispossessed director, Sundance, 2019)
Marjan Safinia (And She Could Be Next, Sundance Doc Fund 2018)

Dear Robert Redford,
Sundance, an organization you founded, is the world’s premiere venue for films about the climate crisis. Sundance has also championed the art and artistry of Indigenous filmmakers through its Indigenous Program and Labs. But your relationship with Chase Bank stands in violent opposition to the values grounding you and Sundance’s legacy.

Chase Bank - one of Sundance’s primary corporate sponsors - is the number one fossil fuel funder in the US. Over the past three years, they have invested $195.66 billion dollars into the extraction of fossil fuels worldwide. Chase Bank’s business practices are not only exacerbating a wave of climate apartheid, they are an immediate threat to Indigenous peoples, and all frontline defenders of Mother Earth.

For example:
Since 2009, dozens of journalists around the world have been harassed, assaulted and killed while reporting on fossil fuel pipelines and other climate-crisis causing projects. From 2002 to 2017, at least 1,558 people were reported killed in 50 states while trying to protect their land and water. In one year - 2017 - 5,646 Indigenous women and girls were reported missing and murdered in the US alone - a number 6 times greater than that of US military casualties in Iraq at its peak in 2009.

An October 2019 article in The New Republic stated that “A number of studies, reports, and congressional hearings now connect man camps—which can be used in mines and other extractive efforts as well—with increased rates of sexual violence and sex trafficking.”

Chase’s festival sponsorship allows a corrupt corporation to distract the world from their bloodstained hands. Putting Chase’s name and logo in the same frame as Sundance filmmakers and performers demeans the passion and artistry fueling their work, and uses cinema to silence the violence delivered via pipelines Chase continues to fund.

We are inspired by the courage and clarity of activists Greta Thunberg, Autumn Peltier, Little Miss Flint, and so many more who have mobilized a global movement to protect our planet. We ask that you and your fellow Sundance Trustees channel the bravery of these warriors and pledge to immediately discontinue your relationship with Chase Bank and all other fossil fuel funders. By ending your business relationship with the funders of climate chaos and indigenous human rights abuses, you can set an example for the world, and play a critical part as we face the greatest challenge humanity has known.

For fifty years you’ve blazed a path for culture-shifting art and eco-activism. And five years ago you spoke eloquently and passionately at the UN, saying that: “Unless we move quickly away from fossil fuels, we’re going to destroy the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the health of our children, grandchildren, and future generations.”

You were right then and you’re right now, Mr. Redford.
Be the hero you always have been: #CutChase.
Sincerely,

Michelle Cook - (Dine'/Navajo human rights lawyer, founder of Divest.Invest.Protect.)
David Felix Sutcliffe ((T)ERROR co-director, Sundance 2015)
Michelle Latimer (Algonquin/Metis, Nuuca director, Sundance 2018)
Christina D. King (Creek/Seminole, Warrior Women co-director, Time Warner Native Producing Fellow, 2014)
Stephen Maing (Crime + Punishment director, Sundance 2018)
Sabrina Schmidt Gordon (Quest director, Sundance 2017)
Jon Olshefski (Quest director, Sundance 2017)
Bing Liu (Minding the Gap producer, Sundance 2018)
Alexandria Bombach (On Her Shoulders director, Sundance 2018)
Alison Klayman (The Brink director, Sundance 2019)
Laura Nix (Inventing Tomorrow director, Sundance 2018)
Robert Greene (Bisbee '17 director, Sundance 2018)
Jeremy Yaches (We The Animals producer, Sundance 2018)
Pamela Yates (500 Years director, Sundance 2017)
Pacho Velez (The Reagan Show director, Sundance Doc Fund 2015)
Erika Cohn (In Football We Trust director, Sundance 2015)
Lana Wilson (Miss Americana director, Sundance 2020)
Mayuran Tiruchelvam (To Be Takei producer, Sundance 2014)
Musa Syeed (The Dispossessed director, Sundance, 2019)
Marjan Safinia (And She Could Be Next, Sundance Doc Fund 2018)
The Undocumented Filmmakers Collective
Adam Mazo (Upstander Project, Dawnland director, PBS 2015)
Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabekwe/Ojibwe, Honor the Earth)
Casey Camp-Horinek (Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma, Former Councilwoman, Director of the Environmental Office; Ponca Matriarchj (Sundance Film Festival alumni)
Matt Remle (Lakota, Mazaska Talks)
Nick Estes (Lower Brule Sioux Tribe; University of New Mexico)
Michael Horse (Yaqui; Actor; Movement Rights Board Member)
Pennie Opal Plant (Yaqui, Undocumented Choctaw, Cherokee; Co-founder of Movement Rights; The Society of Fearless Grandmothers)
Barbara Jean Morgan (Diné)
Osprey Orielle Lake (Women's Earth and Climate Action Network [WECAN])
Clement Guerra (The Condor & The Eagle)
Isabella Zizi (Idle No More SF Bay)
Rain Bear Stands Last (Director - Somebody's Daughter MMIW Documentary; Global Indigenous Council)
Alec Connon (350 Seattle)
Jeanne Poirier (350Wenatchee)
Deborah McNamara (350 Colorado)
Leah Redwood (Extinction Rebellion SF Bay)
Brian Wilder (Climate Action Rhode Island)
Annie Banks (Wet'suwet'en Solidarity Front Bay Area)
Cailie Kafura (Rising Tide Chicago)
Ralph King (SV-CAN! 350 Silicon Valley Climate Action Now; Hawkview Pictures)
Sarah J Giron (350 Colorado)
Lore Rosenthal (Greenbelt Climate Action Network)
Summer Blaze Aubrey (Cherokee, Blackfeet; Indigenous Human Rights Defenders & Corporate Accountability Program)
Janet MacGillivray (Executive Director – Seeding Sovereignty)
Robyn Harris Iles (Co-ordinator – Frack Free Aotearoa New Zealand)
Chili Yazzie (SW Diné / Navajo)
Dorian Aidee Gomez Pestana (Filmmaker, Ally)
Ryan Brightwell (Ally)
Regine Richter (Ally)
Dallas Goldtooth (Mdewakanton Dakota and Diné)

We invite all fellow Indigenous Peoples, Sundance-supported directors/producers/talent, and concerned allies to show their support by adding their signature below:

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