November is National Native American Heritage Month, and here in Portland, Oregon, we are celebrating the artistic contributions from the American Indian and Indigenous community with this year’s Portland Film Festival (PDXFF).

PDXFF is Portland’s largest film festival by filmmakers for filmmakers. Named "one of the coolest film festivals in the world," by MovieMaker Magazine, the Festival partners with several area organizations including the City of Portland, Portland Parks & Recreation, Women In Film, Oregon Media Production Association, Willamette Writers, SAG-AFTRA, Oregon Governor’s Office of Film, Digital Media Communications Department at Clackamas Community College, and Comcast.

As the presenting sponsor, Comcast provides support for our festival to bring a wide array of diverse voices to audiences across the region. This year, we are screening over 152 films from around the world, 89 of which were directed by women – that’s nearly 60 percent of the films being screened – and, each day, a film will be shown that highlights current Indigenous voices.

Portland and Multnomah County is the ninth largest urban American Indian population in America. Our city is home to an estimated 58,135 Native Americans that represent more than 380 tribal affiliations – and our state of Oregon is home to nine federally recognized Indian reservations. With such a rich cultural history here in the Portland metro area, we made it an imperative to showcase American Indian and Indigenous perspectives.

These stories are critical to ensuring American Indian and Indigenous voices are heard and shared with the local community and beyond. We are delighted to bring the West Coast premiere of MASHPEE NINE, a documentary that tells the story of injustice and vindication that emboldened cultural pride and integrity to this year’s PDXFF. In addition, audiences are invited to join in a story-driven discussion that elevates Indigenous voices in our understanding of the Columbia River system at the CONFLUENCE STORY GATHERING Special Event.

Not only is it important to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native American and Indigenous people – it is equally as important to educate the general public about tribes and to raise awareness around the challenges Native American and Indigenous people face. PDXFF is proud to provide this platform to so many in our community. And, we are grateful to Comcast in helping us to further this call.

Our mission is to nurture filmmakers and audiences, and celebrate the power of a good story. Our festival focuses on the people, ideas, technology, skills and artistry behind filmmaking and provides both entertaining and educational opportunities to the public. We could not have done all of this without the generous support from Comcast and all our partner organizations.

Josh Leake is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Portland Film Festival. As a filmmaker himself, he produced "Glena," a feature length documentary that premiered at Slamdance ’14 and his film, "Emptys," a documentary about people who collect beverage containers as their principal source of income, won first place at Tropfest New York, the world’s largest short film festival.