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Chickasaw Nation's "Te Ata” wins Best Picture at Orlando Film Festival

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office, Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Release Date: November 04, 2016

“Te Ata,” a film based on the inspirational true story of Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher, was named “Best Picture” at the 11th annual Orlando Film Festival.

Produced by the Chickasaw Nation, the feature film shares the remarkable life of the Chickasaw storyteller best known by her stage name, Te Ata, which means “bearer of the morning.

The film follows Te Ata’s life as she traversed cultural barriers and helped change public perceptions of Native Americans during a storied career which spanned from the 1920s through the 1980s.

“Te Ata’s” cast includes: Q'orianka Kilcher as Te Ata. Gil Birmingham is cast as Te Ata’s father, Thomas Benjamin (T.B.) Thompson.

Oscar-nominee Graham Greene plays Chickasaw Gov. Douglas H. Johnston; Brigid Brannagh , is Te Ata’s mother; and MacKenzie Astin plays Te Ata’s husband, renowned scientist Dr. Clyde Fisher.

The film opened the Orlando Film Festival Oct. 19 and had an encore screening Sunday, Oct. 23, at Cobb Plaza Cinema Cafe in downtown Orlando.

“Te Ata” producer Paul Sirmons, director Nathan Frankowski, content producer and writer Jeannie Barbour and production designer Andrew White hosted a Question and Answer session following the initial screening, entertaining queries from the more than 100 audience members.

“The crowd was very enthusiastic about the film,” said Ms. Barbour. “It's always great to sit with the audience to listen for reaction to the various scenes. Every audience is different in their response. But all have been positive, and so was the Orlando crowd. It makes me feel like we have done something very special with this film.”

“People have connected with its story,” she said.

Associate producer Angela Owen also attended the screening, along with several members of the cast and crew who reside in the Orlando area also attended the screening.
“Te Ata” production designer Andrew White accepted the “Best Picture” award on behalf of the production team during the closing ceremonies Sunday, Oct. 23.
More than 320 films, 63 features and 261 short films were selected for screening at the Orlando Film Festival.

Audience Choice - Heartland Award

“Te Ata” was also selected as Audience Choice Award Winner, Narrative Feature, at the 25th annual Heartland Film Festival, conducted Oct. 20-30 in Indianapolis. Audience members selected “Te Ata” as their top award winner in the narrative feature category by a ballot vote.

The honor was announced Oct. 29 during the film festival’s awards ceremony.

Heartland Film is a curator and supporter of purposeful filmmaking, honoring a wide variety of cinema and awarding storytellers from all over the world.

Gallup Awards

“Te Ata” was also honored recently with several awards at the Gallup (New Mexico) Film Festival, including: Audience Choice Award-Best Drama Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Male Performance, Gil Birmingham; and Best Original Music.

Conducted Sept. 16-18, the Gallup Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing and promoting exceptional films to the entertainment industry.

For more information about “Te Ata” the movie, visit, Facebook page or “@TeAtaMovie” on Twitter and Instagram. Connect with “Te Ata” social media on all platforms using #TeAtaMovie.

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