Austin Bunn + Jeffrey Palmer


“Ghosts” short film tells the dramatic true story of three Kiowa boys’ escape from a government-run boarding school in Anadarko, Oklahoma in January 1891 and their desperate attempt to return to their resettled tribal community 40 miles away for a ritual known as a “Ghost Dance.” Three days later, they would be discovered frozen to death. This tragedy, in the “Indian territory” of pre-statehood Oklahoma, nearly triggered an armed uprising by the tribe. Kiowa director and Cornell faculty member Jeff Palmer directs this moving, dramatization of their escape, utilizing historical source materials (e.g., the official reports by Army Captain Hugh L. Scott, tasked with investigating the deaths) and interviews with living tribal members to produce a highly cinematic dramatization with young native actors.

Jeffrey Palmer is an Associate Professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts. He is a Kiowa filmmaker and media artist and his first feature film, N. Scott Momaday: Words from a Bear, premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and aired on the PBS series American Masters. His short films have also screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs, The Seattle International Film Festival, and many others around the world.

Austin Bunn is an Associate Professor in the Department of Performing and Media Arts and the Director of the Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity. He co-wrote the script for Kill Your Darlings (Sony Pictures Classics), which debuted at the Sundance and won the International Days Prize at the Venice Film Festival. He is the author of The Brink: stories (Harper Perennial) and he’s has written feature screenplays and television pilots for Twentieth Century Fox, Lionsgate, Participant Media, and Annapurna. His short films have been selected as Vimeo Staff Picks, Short of the Week “Short of the Month,” and screened at Frameline, OutFest, InsideOut (Toronto), Brooklyn Film Festival, and elsewhere. His writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Atlantic, The Pushcart Prize, Best American Science and Nature Writing, and Best American Fantasy.

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