Chickasaw Nation Productions’ “Te Ata” Now Streaming
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office
Release Date: November 01, 2021
ADA, Okla. – “Deadline Hollywood” and the “New York Times” were among the first major news outlets to applaud “Te Ata,” a feature film produced by the Chickasaw Nation that will air in November.
An overwhelming 98% of audience members give “Te Ata” rave reviews on the movie-rating website “Rotten Tomatoes.”
“Times” movie critic Teo Bugbee commended the film’s star, Q’orianka Kilcher, along with the person she portrays, Chickasaw actress and storyteller “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher.
“The movie’s driving force is its mythic performance scenes, which are choreographed, sung and acted with clear, balletic conviction by the film’s star, Q’orianka Kilcher,” Bugbee wrote.
She went on to say, “Te Ata became an advocate, through her own artistic excellence, for the inherent dignity the federal government denied American Indians — fittingly, her stage name means “bearer of the morning.”
“Te Ata” features an all-star cast including Kilcher (“The New World” and “Yellowstone”); Graham Greene (“Dances with Wolves” and “Northern Exposure”); Gil Birmingham (“Twilight,” “Yellowstone” and “Hell or High Water”); Brigid Brannagh (“Army Wives” and “Runaways”); Mackenzie Astin (“Wyatt Earp” and “Windsor”) and Oklahoma native Cindy Pickett (“Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and “The Guiding Light”).
In 2014, the Chickasaw Nation embarked upon telling the story of Mary Francis “Te Ata” Thompson Fisher, born in 1895, in Emet, Indian Territory. She acted on Broadway, toured Europe, entertained Britain’s King George and Queen Elizabeth in addition to other European dignitaries.
The movie follows the early life, education and career of Miss Thompson, who wed famed astronomer Dr. Clyde Fisher in 1933, who served as curator at the American Museum of Natural History and later head of Hayden Planetarium in New York City.
This feature film made about her life follows the events of Te Ata’s journey to fame. She was a favorite performer of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She performed for the Roosevelts’ first State Dinner honoring British Prime Minister Ramsey MacDonald. Te Ata also performed for the president and his wife at their home at Hyde Park, New York.
“Deadline Hollywood” film critic Anita Busch said, “Te Ata looks like a $50 million Hollywood feature."
Busch also thought the film’s star excelled in the role, writing, “Kilcher knocks it out of the park,” adding, “You could say that Te Ata is one of many Hidden Figures in the Native American culture."
Citing “great direction by Nathan Frankowski,” Busch noted, “The film delves into what it meant to be Native American at a time when assimilation was forced upon the culture.”
Online film reviewers at “The MungleShow” called “Te Ata” "powerful and moving.”
One of the elements looked upon favorably is the movie’s family-friendly nature.
“I highly recommend it. It is encouraging (seeing) something the whole family can watch that isn’t simply animated or slapstick humor,” noted “The MungleShow” in its review.
A four-star rating was given by Don Shanahan, creator/founder/blogger of “Every Movie Has a Lesson.”
“‘Te Ata’ is the kind of story young women of today need to see, hear and experience,” Shanahan wrote.
“‘Te Ata’ is worthy and thoughtful history, through and through, with a brave central figure perfect for the big screen treatment,” he added.
“Red Carpet Crash,” an internet entertainment site, lauded the movie’s strengths in a review written by movie critic “Lavanya.”
"It will definitely inspire you," Lavanya wrote, adding the movie “is truly inspirational on all fronts.
“‘Te Ata’ comes across as a wonderful piece of history … It succeeds in taking the viewers to the good, old times with a clear picture of their challenges and worries,’” Lavanya declared.
“Excellent story, powerful narration, talented cast and careful execution shine as the highlights of this story inspired by history,” Lavanya concluded.
“Selig Film News” critic Cynthia Flores wrote “‘Te Ata’ is a proud, talented American Indian woman that would not let the world put her in a box or silence her voice. This is the kind of movie you can really take the whole family to see."
“Te Ata” premiered in September 2016 in Oklahoma City. It was subsequently released in more than a dozen states later that month. “Te Ata” enjoyed runs in both New York and Los Angeles.
Te Ata Thompson Fisher lived to be 99, passing in Oklahoma City in 1995, just days shy of her 100th birthday. Perhaps her greatest legacy late in her career was performing for and educating school children about First Americans, their heritage, culture and significance in American history.
The film is now available to stream on Netflix.