Vol. LII No. 9
September 2017

‘TE ATA’ debut set for this fall in U.S. theaters

The true story of a Chickasaw storyteller is coming to select theatres across the nation this fall.

Chickasaw Nation Production’s “TE ATA,” inspired by the life of Mary Thompson Fisher, will be presented this fall. The feature film will be screened in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, Missouri, Arizona, New Mexico, Tennessee, New York and California theatres.

The film offers a glimpse into the remarkable life of Chickasaw storyteller Mary Thompson Fisher as she traversed cultural barriers and helped change public perceptions of Native America during a storied career.

“Te Ata defied stereotypes on various levels as a Native American, as well as a woman, at a time when either presented difficulties and challenges,” Gov. Bill Anoatubby said. “Yet she celebrated both and did so in a way that brought honor to those she represented.

“We are delighted to bring this story to audiences because Te Ata was a great ambassador for Chickasaw people and for all Native Americans. Te Ata once wrote that art binds all people together. Her career bears testimony to the truth of that noble idea. Through this film, she continues to serve as a shining example of the power of artistic expression to change hearts and minds.”

Filmed entirely in Oklahoma, “TE ATA” focuses on the early career of famed Chickasaw storyteller and actress Te Ata, who is brought to life on the silver screen by Q’orianka Kilcher.

Born in Emet, Indian Territory, in 1895, Te Ata’s ambition was to perform on Broadway.

The film shares her uncharted journey to find her true calling and her discovery of the importance of family ties and traditions.

“Te Ata” (bearer of the morning) was given her name by a Chickasaw aunt. Te Ata grew up in a family steeped in tribal heritage and customs.

During her 60-plus year career, Te Ata shared stories and tales she learned from her Chickasaw father, T.B. Thompson, portrayed in the movie by Gil Birmingham.  As her fame grew, she embraced the stories of other Native American tribes and shared those stories with the world.

Directed by Nathan Frankowski and produced by Paul Sirmons, the movie is set primarily in the early twentieth century. At a time when certain expressions of Native American culture were banned under federal policy, Te Ata placed the beauty and value of Native American culture in the spotlight, helping members of the public view Native American culture as a vital part of American society.

The role of one pivotal figure during this time in history, Chickasaw Nation Governor Douglas H. Johnston, is played by Oscar-nominee Graham Greene.  Scenes in the movie depicted some of Gov. Johnston’s efforts to maintain the existence of Chickasaw people.

Te Ata married Dr. Clyde Fisher, a renowned scientist and educator at the American Museum of Natural History who founded the Hayden Planetarium. Dr. Fisher is played by MacKenzie Astin.

Awards and Honors

“TE ATA” was named “Best Picture” at the 11th annual Orlando Film Festival, November 2016. The film has also earned numerous honors at film festivals throughout the U.S., including: Audience Choice Award Winner, Narrative Feature, at the Heartland Film Festival, Oct. 2016, in Indianapolis; Audience Choice Award-Best Drama Feature, Best Cinematography, Best Screenplay, Best Male Performance, Gil Birmingham; and Best Original Music at the Gallup (New Mexico) Film Festival September 2016.

Nathan Frankowski earned “Best Director” honors for his work on “TE ATA” and Gil Birmingham garnered a “Best Actor” award at the 41stAnnual American Indian Film Festival conducted in San Francisco in November 2016.

“TE ATA” was honored with “Best Native American Film” at the San Diego Film Festival by a jury selection, October 2016. The movie was one of the 100 films selected to be screened at the festival, from more than 2,000 submissions.

Q’orianka Kilcher was honored as “Best Feature Film Actress” during Tulsa American Film Festival, October 2016.

The Dove Foundation awarded four “Doves,” to “TE ATA,” giving the film, its “Family-Approved” Seal for all ages.

Paladin is distributing the film in the U.S. Paladin President Mark Urman said, “’TE ATA’ is a compelling story about a true “hidden figure” in American history, one whose achievements are as inspiring—and relevant—today as they ever were.

“We are thrilled that audiences who do not yet know this remarkable woman will finally get to ‘meet’ her.”

For updates about “TE ATA,” visit TeAtaMovie.com, Facebook page facebook.com/TeAtaMovie or “@TeAtaMovie” on Twitter and Instagram. Connect with “TE ATA” social media on all platforms using #TeAtaMovie.

About Paladin

Paladin is a full service independent film distribution company that was formed in the summer of 2009 by Mark Urman, who co-founded THINKFilm and served as co-president of Lionsgate Releasing.