Jonathan Thunder Film Bio
Jonathan Thunder (born march 1977), is Ojibwe from the Red Lake Nation in northwestern Minnesota. He was born on the Red Lake Indian Reservation and grew up in the Twin Cities. Thunder studied painting and creative writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM and later studied visual effects and animation at the Art Institute Int’l in Minneapolis, MN. He is known for his short, animated films, which have been featured in both national in international film festivals. Thunder has won several awards for animation, music video and experimental film categories. He has been involved in filmmaking for several years, with roles ranging from writer/director, collaborator and acting. Jonathan is also a painter who has exhibited in group exhibits as well as solo showings.
This page contains short films and animations I have created in collaboration with others or as a solo undertaking.
Maamawi, 2020 (unreleased to the public, email for inquiries)
Maamawi is the Ojibwe word that means “together”. This short film explores connections between a young man and his unfamiliar relatives from not so long ago. The content reflects a timeline between the 50’s and current time, in relation to impact of the 1956 Indian Relocation act. Narrated in the Ojibwe language.
Walk In Dreams
Walk in Dreams is a digital animation created using hand painted images. I created the work in 2016 as an experiment. I wanted to explore the separate stories of multiple images to create a film that moved like a dream, without the constraints of linear storytelling. Tricksters, pollinators, and Ojibwe clan animals occupy the scenes. A sound design was created using recordings of children’s toys and records. Walk in Dreams won a blue ribbon for Animated Film at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s 16th annual Native Cinema Showcase, Santa Fe, NM.
Collaboration with Gyasi Ross and Catalina Lawrence. Petaki was featured at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian’s 17th annual Native Cinema Showcase where it won 1st place in the Music Video category.
Walking This Frozen Road
Collaboration with Heid Erdrich
This is a compilation of video projects I have worked on in the past few years.
The Haudenosaunee Creation Story of Lacrosse
World Indoor Lacrosse Championship 2015 3D Projection Animation
This animated film was commissioned by the Onondaga tribe in New York, and was a collaborative effort in which I was the artist and animator. I consulted with tribe representatives to render their telling of a creation story: the game of lacrosse being a tool that saved the Iroquois confederacy as a whole. The animation was projected on a large scale pillar of cloth at the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships that was hosted in Syracuse, NY, and attended by 14 nations worldwide. The intent was to welcome all competitors to the event and educate everyone in attendance about the meaning of Lacrosse to the Onondaga tribe.
This is a short film that I would consider more of a moving canvas. The short was commissioned to create something that would play in the lobby of the Pillbury House + Theatre during one of it’s plays. The play was about a Seminole village during the early days after the civil war. This short film, was dedicated to the Miccosukee language which is one of two dialects spoken by the Seminoles.
This short film entitled “The Demon Tree” is a story of a 4000 year old tree that eats songbirds when they come to visit it’s branches.
This poem film is a deadly medley I collaborated on with none other than Heid E. Erdrich. Heid and I have worked on multiple projects together and this one is by far the tastiest. The film is called “Undead Faerie Goes Great With India Pale Ale”. Enjoy!
This next piece is an older live action story I put together with the help of a friend that had skills with framing a shot. The film “Man Cave” is the story of a blue collar worker that comes home to enjoy his cooler full of beer and his TV, only to find out his peace and quiet will soon be compromised. I was inspired by the Wile E Coyote and the Road Runner toons that use to paint my Saturday mornings with a mix of mayhem and laughter.
This is a short film I was blessed to be a part of. This tale of How the Bear got a Short Tail is narrated in all Ojibwemowin (the language of the Ojibwe people). Narrated by elder Anna Gibbs, Directed by Elizabeth Day, Produced by Wiigwaas Press and artwork and animation by yours truly.
This is a demo reel I was showing as my portfolio back in the old school.
To see more videos. Check out my channels on Vimeo or Youtube.
Click here for Vimeo Click here for Youtube