Sundance 2023: Joonam, A Still Small Voice, Bad Press | Festivals and awards

There have been many documentaries about first responders in the age of Covid, but “A Still Small Voice” may well be the best to examine them within the framework of The Great Resignation.

Finally, “Bad Press,” Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler’s searing look at how local politics are at odds with press freedom in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma centers mostly on how one journalist’s struggle is not just about her job, but the wave of change that could ripple across Indian country.

Angel Ellis is a reporter for Mvskoke Media in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. On November 8, 2018, the members of the National Council voted to repeal the Freedom of the Press Act, which itself had only been ratified in the Nation in 2015. This repeal comes a year after one of Angel’s fellow journalists exposed a sexual harassment scandal in council, and a few months before an upcoming election.

The document includes recordings of the repeal vote as well as several other important votes after a council member initiated a motion to codify Freedom of the Press into their constitution (itself only going back to 1979). Landsberry-Baker and Peeler manage to capture—several times—that gut feeling you get when you see the votes roll in for an election that has steep consequences depending on its outcome.

Along with Angel and her various associates, the filmmakers interview several candidates running for chief executive, as well as citizens inspired to vote for the first time to make sure the proposal as they track the proposal’s journey toward codification. passing by. These interviews reveal how corrupt those who seek to lead often are or later become, as well as how easily misinformation can be spread without a reliable news source.

Although the documentary’s focus is solely on the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, its themes echo the various battles fought between the press and governments throughout time. The Mvskoke Media story is a living embodiment of “The press should serve the governed, not the governors,” Justice Hugo Black’s statement on the 1971 Supreme Court decision in New York Times Co. v. United States. That a press freedom codification for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation could be as big as a landmark decision that would affect other Native American tribes is a driving force for Angel, who just wants reporters to be able to do their job of reporting the news, good or bad. bad.

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