Montclair Film Festival showcases “The Nationals” Directed by Hyde Harper

Written by on November 22, 2023

By Rashmika Vinakota

October 23, 2023 marked day four of the Montclair Film Festival at The Clairidge in downtown Montclair. The festival showcased a number of independent films such as “Breaking the News,” directed by Heather Courtney, Princess A. Hairston, and Chelsea Hernandez, and “Evil Does Not Exist,” a foreign language feature film directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi. 

The Clairidge screened a series of six independent short films called “Shorts: No Place Like Home.” Each project had its own unique storytelling and genres which ranged from fiction, documentary, animation and drama. One such short film was ‘The Nationals” directed by Hyde Harper, a director and creative producer based in New York. 

“Shorts: No Place Like Home” Q&A panel with three of the directors. Left – Francesca Prout (Aftermath), Center – Alex Nystram (Four Nights and a Fire), Right – Hyde Harper (The Nationals)

‘The Nationals” is a 31-minute documentary following the Haudenosaunee lacrosse team on their journey to the University of Limerick, Ireland. The Haudenosaunee Nationals Lacrosse Organization is an indigenous sports group. Haudenosaunee is part of the Grand Council of the Six Nations, and is an Iroquoian-speaking confederacy of Native Americans based in Upstate New York and Northeast America. 

The short film is one part in a sixteen part short film series and 45 podcast episodes titled “Sports Explains the World,” which covers stories from all over the globe through the universe of sports. Produced by Meadowlark Media, this documentary-style series does not have a streaming destination as of yet, but there have been screenings for some of the films, the most recent one being this one. 

This short film unlocked a new level in sports storytelling, as the filmmakers brought in fresh perspectives about the Haudenosaunee Lacrosse team while crediting them as the originators of the sports, as said by Harper. The story expressed that Lacrosse is more than just games, scores and winning for the Haudenosaunee people – it is also a huge part of their culture, and who they are as a tribe.

They play not only to win trophies but to also “have a global conversation about who they are and being able to represent themselves as a people” said Harper.