2019 Grants Challenge


Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival (GIIFF) is an annual festival where film makers, leaders, and members of indigenous communities are recognized for their contributions to the betterment of indigenous people. GIIFF showcases a variety of films and documentaries created by indigenous storytellers as well as panel discussions, workshops and cultural presentations. This annual festival reconciles, entertains and portrays the very diverse and brilliant cultures of indigenous people.


Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.

Founded by Freda Sideroff, an indigene of the Garifuna people, in 2012 the Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival’s (GIIFF) mission is to support the preservation of all indigenous cultures in the world through art and film. Upon its launching Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival was recognized by Former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who signed a proclamation declaring May 26th, Garifuna International Film Day in the City of Los Angeles and state of California.

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 on St. Vincent Island and in other regions of the Caribbean and coastal Central America. 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.”

Migration has fostered a strong sense of identity. Garifuna celebrate their own unique heritage and language through music, which is characterized by guitar and drums, as well as religion and food, including Hudut, a coconut-based shellfish stew served with mashed plantains. Garifuna traditions, customs, and beliefs reflect the bond of community and respect for elders, both living and dead. UNESCO’S Proclamation Masterpieces of Oral an intangible Heritage of Humanity issued to Garifuna Language, Music and Dance on May 18th 2001 due to an urgent need of preservation. The Garifuna International Indigenous Film Festival is expanding its vision to preserve, support, and share the culture of Garifuna around the world with our storytelling and film festivals.

Which of the CONNECT metrics will your submission impact?​​

Adults getting sufficient social & emotional support

Attendance at cultural events

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?​

County of Los Angeles

How will your project make LA the best place to CONNECT?

We envision the preservation of all indigenous peoples and their cultural wisdoms through arts, documentaries, featured & short films as we build awareness of their plight through panel discussions, workshops and cultural presentations in an effort to reconcile, entertain, and portray the very diverse and brilliant cultures of indigenes around the world.

Our 8th Annual Film Festival will be hosted May 23rd - 27th and will feature:

Films, Shorts and Documentary - we will showcases a variety of films and documentaries created by Garifuna filmmakers as well as by indigenous people, here are a few of our titles: Lubaraun, Shattered Dreams: Sex Trafficking in America, Neshoba the Price of Freedom, to name a few.

Mental Health & Films Discussion Panel - Our panel discussions has been sponsored by CalMHSA in the past and has featured some of today’s most respected indigenous-focused filmmakers and activists working to shed light on important issues plaguing indigenous communities including suicide in native American communities, drug crisis and mental health.

Gathering Circle & Arts Exhibit- bringing awareness to supporting indigenous people, their rights, arts and cultural preservation efforts.

Masterclasses - encouraging inclusion and preservation in cultural arts we will present 3 masterclasses lead by respected leaders in various indigenous groups.

Our Community Engagement plan includes running ads on popular social media sites to

include the one million community members who reside within 25 miles of Venice, CA

who report household incomes under $50k and who identifies themselves as indigenous

or living away from their hometown of origin. We will also distribute posters in local

stores in Venice beach and Topanga. We are seeking to reach approximately 1000 participants per day.

Our film festival ensures Los Angelenos have access to authentic cultural arts and museum like experience that encourages cultural participation.

In what stage of innovation is this project?​

Expand existing program (expanding and continuing ongoing successful projects)

Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.​

Success will be measured by the amount of attendees at each film festival.