The Cherokee Nation and its film office are celebrating the premiere of Land of Gold and the first production of its kind to be filmed at the tribe’s studios and state-of-the-art virtual soundstage located in Owasso. The film, directed by award-winning filmmaker Nardeep Khurmi, debuted at the Tribeca Festival in New York City this month.
The film follows truck driver and expectant father Kiran, played by Khurmi, as his already tumultuous life takes a drastic turn when he sets out to reunite a young girl named Elena, played by Caroline Valencia, with her family after he discovers the child stowed away in a shipping container.
Land of Gold is the 2021 winner of AT&T Presents: Untold Stories – a multiyear, multitier alliance between AT&T and Tribeca Festival. Each year the program awards a deserving, underrepresented filmmaker $1 million to produce their film and provides mentorship and first-look opportunities for distribution.
“Inclusive storytelling is important not only in front of the camera, but behind as well. This story of hyphenated Americans could not have been made without the support of the Cherokee Nation, whose generosity allowed us to film our road trip sequences in comfort and in safety,” said Khurmi. “I’m honored to have made my first film about what it is to be American with the collaboration of First Nations people. It is exhilarating, and I’m so proud of what we accomplished together.”
The tribe’s virtual soundstage, a first of its kind in Oklahoma and in Indian Country, includes 27,000 square feet located on more than 4 acres within the Cherokee Nation reservation. The Cherokee Nation Extended Reality Studio, or XR Studio, encompasses both an LED wall and ceiling structure to provide industry-leading content and capabilities in virtual production by using Augmented Reality, Mixed Reality and Virtual Reality elements to create a fully immersive experience.
“This premiere illustrates the significance of Cherokee Nation having introduced groundbreaking film technology to our region,” said Jennifer Loren, director of the Cherokee Nation Film Office and Original Content. “It is truly exciting to see this film and the diverse production capabilities within our reservation and state being featured on a worldwide platform.”
Earlier this year, Cherokee Nation and its businesses also launched a powerful economic tool within the tribe’s reservation and expanded its effort to help grow the film and television industries in Oklahoma when Cherokee Nation Film Office became the first tribal film commission to offer an annual $1 million film incentive for productions filmed within its tribe’s boundaries.