Press kit for 'Nowa Cumig : The Drum Will Never Stop'
Photo credit : Marielle Jasmin
Dennis Banks (Lead character, Protagonist)
Dennis James Banks, also known by his Ojibwa name 'Nowa Cumig' (''In the Center''), was born in 1937 on the Leech Lake Reservation in Northern Minnesota. He attended boarding school, enrolled in the Air Force as an aerial photographer, then went back to Minneapolis, where he lived in poverty with his wife and children. Following an incident and a brief stint in jail, his eyes were opened to the unfair treatment of Native Americans in all aspects of society. In 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.) with George Mitchell and Clyde Bellecourt, in an effort to protect both the culture and the treaty rights that were being desecrated. The following year, he met Crow Dog and Russell Means, who both joined the movement. Many historical events such as the Wounded Knee siege, the Custer riots and such took place in the years that followed. In 1978, a new era began for Banks with the original Longest Walk, where he joined forces with Japanese Buddhist monks from the Nipponzan Myohoji. This event was followed by countless other Longest Walks and Sacred Runs (still today, in 2013) aiming to raise awareness on the protection of spiritual, environmental and human rights, as well as traditional ways of living. Today, Banks participates in the yearly 'Mother Earth Tour' with his friends Masaou Yamamoto and Takeo Koshikawa, and travels around the world to speak and give encouragement to other indigenous people. Banks still resides in Leech Lake with his family, making drums, harvesting wild rice and continuing the way of life of his ancestors.
Marie-Michele Jasmin-Belisle (Director)
Marie-Michele is a Montreal-born film artist working between California, Japan, and her home-base in New Mexico. It is upon falling in love with the desert light that she moved to the Southwest, where her career began directing films with dance-theatre groups, and indigenous hip hop artists. She has since directed her first feature documentary on the life of American Indian leader Dennis Banks, had a solo show (films+ paintings) in Tokyo, worked with renowned composer Kitaro, was nominated for Best Music Video for her ‘Demonic Lovely’ piece for gypsy jazz band Le Chat Lunatique, and created a series of video loops for events & installations in high-end establishments. She recently began a VJ/DJ duo with partner Cloud Face, performing in Montreal and New York City. Her film-poem ‘Wonder Chamber no 1’, was screened in Berlin and London, followed by Australia, Italy and the U.S.A. Her newest piece ‘Desert Haiku’ (www.deserthaiku.com), first drafted when daydreaming about the desert, and one of the most important experiences of her career, was also part of the official selection for the 2012 International Symposium of Electronic Arts.
Masaou Yamamoto (Executive Producer)
1944: He was born in Tokyo.
1967: Graduated Gakushuin University, BA in Economics.
1968~69: He went to the U.S. for his Masters degree at Roosevelt University,
Illinois and Valpariso University, Indiana. Graduated in 1969.
1969: Joined Sumida Oil Company as Managing Director.
1988: Took up his post as President & CEO of Sumida Trading & Co., Ltd.
1989: Founded Sumida’s subsidiary company Piazza Trading & Co., Ltd. in
the U.S. He is the CEO and President of the company.
1989: Met AIM founder, Dennis Banks. He has been dedicated to Japan-
U.S. exchanges especially in the field of Native American culture.
2001: Started the “Yamamoto Cup Canoe Race” to support Native
American youth that continued until 2011.
2003: He became a sponsor of the Nowa Cumig Instiute of Dennis Banks.
2005: Founded Tracey Designs, Inc. in the U.S., to manufacture and sell the
works by contemporary Native American jewelry designer, Ray
Tracey who is a Navajo artist.
2008: He became a sponsor of The Longest Walk 2 of Dennis Banks.
2001 ~ Present: Started “Mother Earth Tour” as a part of a Japan-U.S.
exchange focusing on environmental protection.
Masaou Yamamoto’s motto is “protect the environment of the Earth” and “maintain people’s health”. He has set up an environmental management system for businesses, established Eco-gas stations, an Eco-farm, and acquired ISO14001 (Eco management standard) certificate in Japan.
He is the Chairman and CEO of Sumida and Piazza Group, honorary Chairman of Harajuku shopping street Omote Sando Keyaki-kai Union, and Chairperson of the Board of Education in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. He is a special advisor of Nowa Cumig Institute.
Takeo Koshikawa (Producer)
He was born in Fukushima, Japan in 1954.
He came to U.S. first time in 1978 and met Dennis Banks. He was one of the film crew of the Longest Walk and worked for many film projects including the famous “Hopi Prophecy” Later he became a script writer for TV & Radio in Japan.
In 1989 he founded Piazza Trading & Co., Ltd.(Art, Fashion & Real Estates.) in Sausalito, CA as the General Manager.
He and his staff produced more than 50 art shows until 2003 and film them. Between 2001and 2011 he & his staff organized “ The Great Anishinabe Canoe Race” ( Yamamoto Cup) with Dennis Banks for the benefit of Native American Youth.
Also since 2001 he and his staff organized “Mother Earth Tour” until now. He & his film crew have filmed them.
Since 2006 he started organizing more than 10 benefit concerts for Nowa Cumig Institute and filmed them. He worked for Dennis Banks’ Autobiography ”Ojibwa Warrior” in English in 2004.
Later he translated it into Japanese with his friend and published it in 2010. He was also a co-producer of 2010 Film "A Good Day To Die." Which received Best Documentary Award at American Indian Film Festival In San Francisco. He also worked for 4 Dennis Banks’ CDs including Narada Michael Walden’s “Still Strong”(2001) and Kitaro’s “Let Mother Earth Speak”(2012)
He is currently living in San Rafael, CA and working as Executive GM & COO of Piazza Trading & Co., Ltd. and EVP & COO of Tracey Designs, Ltd. ( Native American Jewelry).