Tulalip graduate’s short film honored by film competition

TULALIP — Aaron Jones hopes to see his film this August when it’s part of the Smithsonian Native Cinema Showcase in Santa Fe, N.M.

He also wants to see the screening of “History is Unwritten” at this year’s Albuquerque International Film Festival.

Jones, 18, graduated from Tulalip Heritage High School on June 11. Producing and directing the short film was his senior project, which he entered in the Seattle Museum of History and Industry’s first “History Is …” film competition.

Jones produced the film as part of Longhouse Media’s Native Lens‘ after-school program at Tulalip Heritage School. He and a few of his friends started work on the nearly four minute film in February and submitted it in the competition in April.

“History is Unwritten” includes shots of cedar forests near Tulalip Heritage High School and Quil Ceda Village. Jones has been playing the piano for nine years and wrote the film’s original score. The piano music plays throughout the film while words written in English but spoken in Lushootseed, a Coast Salish language, appear on screen.

The Lushootseed language was largely unwritten until the 1960s. Jones and his friends Yvonne Ancheta, Nick James, Becca Marteney, Nico McLean and Kia Pablo brainstormed a list of words to fill in the blank when they wrote the film’s script.

The list of more than 20 words was then turned over to the Tulalip Lushootseed Language Department where Virginia Jones narrated the words.

“History is a lot of different things but ‘History is Unwritten’ came about when I decided to put it in Lushootseed,” said Jones, who is a member of the Tulalip Tribes. “The native language was unwritten for so long and the only way to preserve it was to learn it.”

Jones learned on May 7 that he earned the Best Emerging Filmmaker award in the Museum of History and Industry’s film competition. The film was shown as part of the Seattle International Film Festival in late May and will be part of an exhibit once the museum moves to Lake Union Park in 2012.

Jones said people have told him they like his film for different reasons. Some like the language aspect while others comment on the original musical score or the forest shots, he said.

Jones added that he was surprised and happy with the award and the recognition the film has received, but he’s still a little critical of his own work.

“When you’re the filmmaker you look at it and think, ‘Why didn’t I do this instead of that?’ ” he said.

Jones plans to attend The Evergreen State College in Olympia to study political science, then attend law school. Music and filmmaking will continue to be a part of his life, he said.

“(Music and filmmaking) are a way of expressing myself, I guess, and something I really enjoy,” Jones said. “I probably will make another film one day, but for right now I’m just enjoying what this film is doing.”

Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491; adaybert@heraldnet.com.

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