DUNCAN, Okla. -"Pearl," the first feature film produced by the Chickasaw Nation, won the award as best overall film Jan. 24 at the Trail Dance Film Festival. The true story of a Chickasaw girl from Marlow, Oklahoma, who became the youngest licensed pilot in the U.S. in 1928, also won the award for "Best Native American Film."
"Pearl" focuses on the tumultuous teen years of the late Pearl Carter Scott, who was befriended by famous aviator Wiley Post in the late 1920s. The film sold out the 700-plus seat theater in the Simmons Center, a first for the Duncan film festival.
Anthony Foreman is president of Trail Dance Film Festival.
"I think the film really hit home, especially with Pearl being from Marlow, Oklahoma, which is only about a 15 minute drive from Duncan," said Foreman. "The community took hold of the film because of everyone being so close to it."
A sustained spontaneous ovation broke out as the credits began to roll at the close of the film Saturday night.
Bill Anoatubby, governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said the positive response shows what a profound impact Pearl had on the people of her community.
"We are very pleased to receive this kind of reception from the people who knew Pearl best," said Gov. Anaotubby. "This helps confirm that we have captured some of the resolve and intensity of this dynamic, caring woman who exemplified so many of the finest qualities of Chickasaw people."
While many in the audience knew about the local hero, others were unaware of the story, according to Foreman.
"A lot of people were very excited because they didn't know someone of such stature had come from a place so close," said Foreman. "I think it opened a lot of people's eyes. Those that didn't know Pearl, I think wish they did know Pearl and wish they knew more about her now."
Response from audiences in Duncan was similar to the reception the film has received across the U.S.
In October, 2009 "Pearl" sold out four matinee performances at the "Heartland Film Festival", which is well known as one of the largest family oriented film festivals in the world.
"Pearl" also won a prestigious "Best of Show" award from "The Indie Fest," and swept the feature docudrama category at the "International Cherokee Film Festival."
Producer David Rennke said that the film has a universal message.
"It is very satisfying to see how people relate to the issues in this film. It is about the importance of family and community and the importance of pursuing your dreams."
"Hopefully people will get an inkling of the spirit that pervades the Chickasaw Nation," said Rennke.
For more information, visit www.chickasaw.net or www.pearlthemovie.net