Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

January 11, 2023

'Bad Press' Mvskoke Media in Oklahoma takes Censorship to Sundance Film Festival

Film Director Rebecca Landsberry-Baker

Sundance Film Festival features 'Bad Press' documentary: Mvskoke filmmaker takes tribal censorship to Sundance

Bad Press

By Sundance Film Festival

Angel Ellis is just trying to do her job. She’s a reporter for Mvskoke Media in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and she wants to give her readers access to all the information relevant to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. But that’s not an easy task, given that Angel and her colleagues believe in truth and transparency and aren't afraid to challenge the integrity of some questionable tribal officials.

Fast-forward to a confusing whirlwind of an emergency session at the National Council, where the 2015 Free Press Act is repealed, Mvskoke Media's independent editorial board is dissolved, and the newspaper is placed under the direction of the Secretary of the Nation and Commerce. Now the real fight begins.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler tell a nuanced, empowering tale of a modern Native community fighting for transparency and access to information in order to hold their government accountable. Bad Press is an energizing watch — full of humor, humanity, and numerous twists and turns.

Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, a Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program grantee, is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee Nation and executive director of the Native American Journalists Association.

Read more: Native Journalists tell New York Times it isn't Welcome

"The Native American Journalists Association (@najournalists) told The New York Times it was not welcome at its annual conference following years of coverage that the association says relied on harmful tropes and stereotypes of Indigenous Peoples."

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