SACHEEN Breaking the silence
starring Sacheen Littlefeather
26 minute running time
SACHEEN is a short documentary film that offers Sacheen Littlefeather, a 71-year-old White Mountain Apache and Yaqui elder, actress, activist, dancer, educator, and writer, living in Northern California, the opportunity to share her own story, in her own words, that has been waiting 45 years to be told. As we revisit one of the most memorable and controversial moments in the history of the Academy Awards, Sacheen’s voice will finally be joined together with today’s brave women, who are determined to make their voices heard around the world.
At a time when the visibility of today’s women’s voices are so present, it is also a time to honor those who came before and led the way. Sacheen Littlefeather remains proud that she is the first person (and, as she always adds, the first woman of color) to utilize the Academy Awards to make a political statement. Today, let us be mindful that it is through the powerful medium of film, that the truth of her brave proclamation spoke to a world audience. As the 90th Academy Awards takes place, her words still ring with the same offering of truth, reconciliation, and healing as they did 45 years ago.
Let us join together the influencers and women who are the backbone of Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and Time’s Up movements to celebrate Sacheen and to thank her for her leadership, heart, dignity, and courage.
Sacheen Littlefeather “A society that does not recognize diversity is an atrocity.”
Littlefeather said, Marlon Brando chose the Academy Awards to make a statement because it was the first Oscar ceremony to be broadcast by satellite all over the world. He was extremely troubled that Hollywood was perpetuating stereotypical depictions and historic abuses that denied the American Indian their dignity and accurate portrayal, not only as an Indian, but as a human being. The announcement said Littlefeather “broke the silence” when she mentioned Wounded Knee. She said press from around the world traveled to cover Wounded Knee, but for Sacheen, because she spoke out, there were also unexpected grave consequences.
The racist's tactics of defamation of identity went into full force Along with death threats, she was labeled many things, a B-movie actress, a stripper, a puppet, not really an Indian, Mexican, a fraud. “There’s an old saying, if you don’t like the message, you kill the messenger, she said, and I was the messenger. I was blacklisted, or you could say ‘redlisted’. I was ostracized everywhere I turned. No one would listen to my story nor give me a chance to speak. Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, and others, didn’t want me on their shows. I never worked again in the industry. The doors were closed tight, never to reopen.”
Sacheen was forced out of the spotlight into another light. She went on to work with Mother Teresa, founded the American Indian AIDS Institute, traveled the world to study food systems, became a health educator and formed the National American Indian Performing Arts Registry, a nonprofit, encouraging the film industry to hire Native people.
Today she has stage 4 breast cancer and feels like she is looking over the “Grand Canyon” of her life. She sees a lot of things, and reflects with the wisdom that comes with the passing of time and all with remarkable humor.
“‘SACHEEN (the documentary) kind of knocked me on my butt again… it really worked for opening night. She’s been working 40-plus years since that moment at the Oscars on native people’s rights.”
— Teddy Grouya, Dir. AMDOCS, Desert Sun
"A new short documentary honoring Littlefeather’s activism" — SFGATE
"Littlefeather spoke on Brando’s behalf after his 1973 ‘The Godfather” win, demanding better representation of Native Americans in movies and TV in the first political Oscar speech." — The Wrap
ONE BOWL PRODUCTIONS
in association with REDDING RANCHERIA
featuring SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER and MIKE MEDAVOY
Cinematographer ERIC ANDERSON Edited by RYAN BLOOM
Co-Producers OREN LYONS and JANICE DOSKEY
Co-Executive Producers BETTY LYONS and VICTORIA GEMMILL
Executive Producers GAYLE ANNE KELLEY and RICHARD SPERO
Produced by PETER SPIRER and GAYLE ANNE KELLEY
Written and Directed by PETER SPIRER