A still from Watertight.
By Adam Piron
In January, during the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, filmmaker and artist Fox Maxy (Ipai Kumeyaay and Payómkawichum) was announced as the recipient of this year’s Merata Mita Fellowship in support of their upcoming feature film Watertight. Named in honor of the late Māori filmmaker and longtime artistic director of the Institute’s Native Lab, the fellowship cultivates a stage for Indigenous women worldwide to tell their stories and offers a year-long continuum of support, mentorship, and a trip to the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.
Applications for the 2023 Merata Mita Fellowship are now open; submit your materials by October 3rd, 2022. Below, hear what Maxy had to say during the 2022 Festival.
“I am very grateful to be honored with this opportunity and Merata Mita was a powerful force of a filmmaker and a powerful force of a caretaker. She cared for her family, for her land, for her culture, and she was fierce about it. She didn’t hold back and she told the truth and I think people tend to want to package things in a neat, pretty, and digestible way and I think Merata was unafraid to show you everything: the good, the bad, the ugly. It’s quite a legacy. I think filmmaking as an art is something that saves me on the daily. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t make my art.
I love you all, and you guys teach me so much. I really wouldn’t be the voice that I speak today without all of you. So, I’m someone who doesn’t want to hold back either. This time period of Covid has been the best thing for me because it’s allowed me to step into my own lane, full on, and I don’t worry about anyone’s opinions at all anymore. That’s the biggest force behind my storytelling is not listening to anybody. That’s my biggest goal, just share with people. You can do whatever the hell you want and that’s where I’m coming from whenever I set out to tell a story. I want people to know that they can do whatever they want in this life.
Nothing is guaranteed, nothing is easy. Everything takes a lot of guts, a lot of hard work, but we can do what we want. This is also something that I would have loved to talk to Merata about because I know she would have had this experience too. I see it in her work and I see it as something that we share in life. It’s been a blessing to me to be able to make my own work and stand out on my own and do what I want to do without listening to any of the limits, any of the judgements, and any of the negativity that is flowing around me. I want to say I am very excited for the future. I am very grateful for all of the people I’ve met along the way; for this new Native family of filmmakers that is budding, trying to come out from beneath the ground. We’ve been hidden for a long time and we are finally getting to tell our own stories. We’re finally getting to design our own realities and I think it is so exciting. I’m ready. I’m grateful for the opportunity to create.”