The Institute of American Indian Arts’ (IAIA) Cinematic Arts and Technology Department chair, James Lujan (Taos Pueblo), has announced that Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) has been engaged as outreach consultant for the department. As part of his duties, Eyre will work with Lujan to focus on strengthening the support of the IAIA Cinematic Arts Department in the film community, developing internships, recruiting students, and seeking other resources that will enhance the program’s success.
Eyre holds an MFA from New York University, and a BFA from the University of Arizona. Eyre has already mentored two IAIA students who participated in the 2017 Sundance Institute’s Ignite Program, which provides an opportunity for college-age, aspiring filmmakers to experience the legendary Sundance Film Festival.
Eyre is an award-winning director and producer of film, television, and other media, directing or producing over 15 feature films. He has also worked in directing episodic television, documentaries, and commercial advertising. Eyre’s expertise in producing and directing media content centers around his love of storytelling and humanity. His first film was Smoke Signals, which was noted as the first feature film to be written, directed, and produced by Native Americans. Smoke Signals earned Eyre many prestigious awards, including the Sundance Film Festivals’ Audience Award and its Filmmaker’s Trophy.
In 2012, Eyre became the chair of the film school at Santa Fe University of Art and Design. After re-designing and growing student enrollment at the university, he resigned in 2016 to pursue filmmaking on a full-time basis once again.
Alongside Terrance Malick and Natalie Portman, Eyre served as executive producer for the documentary feature film, The Seventh Fire (2016), which premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Eyre was invited to screen the film at the White House last March.
Eyre serves on advisory boards for the Governor’s Council on Film and Television for the State of New Mexico, the Greater Santa Fe Film Commission, and the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. He has served on numerous film festival juries, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and VisonMaker Media Film Festival.
His awards include a Peabody Award for Edge of America (2005), a Taos Land-Grant Award for Smoke Signals (1998), a Directors’ Guild of America Award for Edge of America (2005), and a Humanitas Award for Edge of America (2005). In 2008, USA Artists named Eyre one of the 50 most important artists in America.
Department chair James Lujan remarked, “We are thrilled to have Chris join our dynamic efforts to grow the BFA program in cinematic arts and technology. His passion for developing Native talent as well as his reputation as an internationally renowned and respected film director will bring a jolt of energy and excitement, and a new, widespread awareness to IAIA’s film program. It’s a natural fit for him and a natural fit for us.”
Eyre commented, “Traditionally, I would say there is no higher compliment than to call an artist a ‘storyteller.’ Given the tribal ties IAIA students have within their own communities, these artists have an incredible resource to tell their stories and explore their ideas in mass media. These storytellers will be the leaders of their generation no matter what they decide to do. I want to be part of their story and help inspire those individuals at IAIA because it is also part of my story.”