Steven Lewis Simpson

Indigenous Image Awards

When I first was contacted by the Indigenous Image Awards to submit our feature film Rez Bomb for potential nomination I was excited to see what seemed an exciting new development of people within indigenous communities celebrating those taking charge of their own advancement and promotion in the entertainment industry that is so heavily prejudice towards these communities when it comes to giving them a fair shake of the stick.  Also I was excited that my supporting cast from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation might have a chance of being honored, particularly Russell Means who has a formidable presence in his supporting role in our film.

But I was very disappointed when the organizers of the awards notified me that they wanted $50 for every person submitted to the awards. To me this is truly extraordinary as for any awards to have any validity they need to be a true meritocracy where the best of the best in peer groups run next to each other. Because of this I refused to submit our film or any of the cast on principle. 

So it was to my great surprise to see that Rez Bomb was nominated in the best film category.  I am most concerned that either the organizers never even saw the film before nomination since I refused to send them through a copy or they managed to get a copy that was not distributed for that purpose. The film is being released in a month or so and the only way people can see the film is via illegal download unless they have managed to finagle a copy from the office of a film festival or suchlike. What concerns me also about this is that although I’m happy the film is nominated anywhere it means nothing if the jury can’t even see the film since I did not submit it.

But also because the film is nominated it makes it look like the rest of the cast would have also been in contention and their lack of a nomination is a reflection of their work. The reality is however that they were not even in contention because I refused to pay money for the privilege.

Imagine if the winner of the Oscars won because say Daniel Day Lewis’s agent refused to pay a fee for him to be in contention as well. Nobody would take it seriously.

As I said at the beginning it is great to see endeavors like these awards popping up but for me this time around they have really shot themselves in the foot as they have pushed away very credible film makers like myself from their process rather than gaining our support and encouragement.

I wish congratulate all the winners and certainly there is some great work represented. But if they were told that a chunk of their potential competition were barred from the competition due to not paying for the privilege I’m sure it would take a great deal of gloss of the glory and that is not fair.

Anyway we’re preparing the DVD and a wealth of original extra features (new documentaries etc) to be released on the 25th if May. Anyone who wants on the mailing list for the release can email

Visit for more information.



58 thoughts on “Indigenous Image Awards

  1. Sol Fyre


    This is interesting what you have presented here and I can clearly see the ramifications of such practices. I have some thoughts, though–first, did they order the CD through you like the fans did or did they somehow acquire a copy through an affiliate? I am loathe to think that acquired the copy illegally. Second, is why would an organization ask for fees? Do they outline or detail the use of these fees? Is this standard practice? I am not an industry insider so the notions of the process intrigues me. Again, I agree that it takes away the glory and prestige in regards to the merit of the actors. However, playing devil’s advocate could this be a way for the film to get more recognition and is this why they ask for the fees? Perhaps heavier promotion of the film will come from submission to the Indigenous Image Awards? I know that you do not want your work presented in this way–this is what I infer from your blog posting, however, there is a gamut of thoughts running through my mind and I am trying to just grasp what the motivation of I.I.A. would be.

    Looking forward to hearing more…

  2. steve Post author

    Well the crazy thing is that I did not submit it on principle and yet they nominated it for best film anyway even though there was not a legitimate way they could have seen it at that point as it had not been released on DVD by then. That is unless they had one of their jury at the Santa Fe film festival where a small number of people saw it.

    I don’t think being nominated made much difference in promoting the film but the crazy thing is how can they have all judged the nominated film if they had no copy of it to view? So I can just imagine they ended up nominating it because it was more prominent in the festival circuit and has more established lead actors than most of the other films there so it would be strange for it to be missing but they didn’t consider any of the cast as we never paid for submissions.

    To me it is just very corrupt for an awards show to ask people to pay to submit. So much for a meritocracy. For me a big reason for relocating my film to Pine Ridge was to help break down some of the barriers the establishment have created and to have a more free flowing creative world. This to me makes a joke out of something that should be held up to celebrate Indigenous artists. The irony is the film being nominated (ie me as producer and director) was recognition of a non native’s contribution while they ignored all the Lakota actors in it because of money.

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