The GIIFF was founded in 2012 with a mission to preserve the values and aspirations of all indigenous people and Garifuna cultures. Founded by Freda Sideroff an indigene of the Garifuna, the GIFF’s mission is to specifically support the preservation of all indigenous cultures in the world through art and film.
An annual event where leaders and members of the community are recognized for their contributions to the betterment and elevation of the dignity of humanity, GIIFF showcases a variety of films and documentaries created by Garifuna filmmakers as well as by many other indigenous people including feature films & short films as well as panel discussions, workshops and cultural presentations. It is equally an annual venue that reconciles, entertains and portrays the very diverse and brilliant cultures to participants of the festival.
At a time when Western civilization is struggling with global problems, the GIIFF showcases important lessons to be learned from indigenous cultures such as interconnectedness, wisdom of our elders, sustainable living and how to live in harmony with nature.
Who Are The Garifunas?
The Garifuna people’s origins can be traced to West Africa. Brought to Central America by the Spanish, the epic story of the Garinagu begins in the early 1600’s on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent when two Spanish ships carrying West Africans sank off the coast of the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in 1635.
The survivors swimming ashore found shelter in the Carib Indian settlements there. On St. Vincent Island they intermixed, intermarried and fused together becoming a single Black Carib culture, called the Garinagu. Afro-Caribbean, the “Garinagu” culture and language are called “Garifuna.” UNESCO’S Proclamation Masterpieces of Oral an intangible Heritage of Humanity issued to Garifuna Language, Music and Dance on May 18th 2001due to an urgent need of preservation.
- Upon its launching in 2012 GIIFF was recognized by the City of Los Angeles, and the State of California.
- Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed a proclamation declaring May 26th, Garifuna International Film Day in the City of Los Angeles and state of California.
About The Founder
Freda Sideroff is the founder and executive director of the Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival. Born and raised in the country of Belize, a nation on the eastern coast of Central America, with Caribbean Sea shorelines to the east and dense jungle Guatemala to the Southwest bordered by Mexico on the North. It is also popularly known for its Mayan ruins, beaches, eco-lodges, scuba diving and sport fishing.
Now residing in the United States Freda continues to maintain strong ties with her family, Belize, and the Garifuna people. In an interview with Eleanor Criswell editor of Somatics Society in 2015, Freda said, “If not for being exiled, the Garifuna Language and culture would have been lost since speaking the cultural language and cultural practices were forbidden. I am grateful for the resilience of my ancestors. Now it is my responsibility, with the community, to leave a legacy to our descendants. The hope is that in my lifetime encouraging and supporting the preservation of my Garifuna language and culture, and introducing it to the world will make a little difference.”
Freda resides in California with her husband Dr. Stephen Sideroff, psychologist, professor at UCLA, and author.
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