Jason Silverman was an original staff member and the artistic director of the late, beloved Taos Talking Picture Festival (1995-2004), an event that brought together scholars, artists, performers and filmmakers to explore the power of media on our culture. Named one of the top ten festivals in the world, the festival included the nation’s first teen film conference, a seminar on media activism, screenings on Taos Pueblo and a film program featuring the best in new and classic movies. Guests included Howard Zinn, Susan Sarandon, Elizabeth Taylor, Nobel laureate Rigoberta Menchu, Jim Hightower and Susan Sarandon. Naomi Klein described the festival as “a genuinely rare meeting point of arts, ideas and politics.”
In 2001, Jason co-founded, with Elizabeth Weatherford of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the Native Cinema Showcase, which became one of the nation’s leading events for indigenous filmmakers, and also featured art installations, performances and lectures. Jason became director of the Cinematheque at Santa Fe’s Center for Contemporary Arts in 2004. The Cinematheque features new films from around the globe, restored classics, ambitious themed series, educational screenings for Santa Fe’s public school students and and extensive community partnerships. Guests have included Laurie Anderson, Jim Jarmusch, Al Pacino, John Sayles, Joshua Oppenheimer and Dolores Huerta. Under Jason’s leadership, the program now draws 70,000 film lovers each year. In 2017, the Cinematheque was recognized as one of the nation’s top 25 theaters by the Sundance Institute.
In 2015, Jason and his creative partner Samba Gadjigo, through their Santa Fe-based company Galle Ceddo Projects, completed SEMBENE!, a documentary celebrating the life and work of Africa’s most influential filmmaker. After premiering at Sundance and Cannes, the film was released internationally, winning numerous awards, and was named one of New York magazine’s top ten films of the year. In order to share the film with African audiences, Samba and Jason created an ambitious outreach program, Sembene Across Africa, which has created more than 400 community screenings in 46 African nations and reached millions through broadcast and free streams. He and Samba partnered with the Film Foundation and the Criterion Collection to restore the entirety of Ousmane Sembene’s filmography.
Jason also created programs for the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the KiMo Theater, SITE Santa Fe, the Telluride Film Festival, the Santa Fe Opera, El Museo del Barrio in New York City and the Lensic Center for the Arts. He is founder and editor of the Telluride Film Watch, an annual journal, is a former lecturer in film and Native Studies at the IAIA, has worked on projects with Chris Eyre, Gary Farmer, John Sayles and Laurie Anderson, and has mentored dozens of emerging filmmakers.