Filmmaker Interview: Costa Boutsikaris

On April 24th at 12pm WSFF will be screening the 2022 Award-Winning Film Inhabitants: An Indigenous Perspective  at The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley as part of our Earth Day weekend programing. Recently we had the chance to ask Inhabitants filmmaker Costa Boutsikaris some questions to give us some insights into the film and his process:


Who are you? (where are you from, where do you live, why did you get into film, whatever you want to tell us really)

My name is Costa Boutsikaris. I am a documentary filmmaker and farmer in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York, the ancestral lands of the Lenape Munsee peoples past, present and future. I Co-Directed the film with my partner Anna Palmer who is a climate scientist and storyteller. 

How many films have you had in the festival?

Two of my films have been in Wild & Scenic. 

When was your first Wild & Scenic?

“INHABITANTS” is my second documentary to be in the festival. My first documentary entitled “INHABIT” was featured in the 2016 WSFF and won “Best In Theme”. 

How many times have you attended?

I have never gotten to attend in person unfortunately!

What makes Wild & Scenic Film Festival special or unique?

The incredible diversity of films overlaps audiences of adventure documentary with environmental awareness and social justice. 

What inspires you to make films? What are your favorite stories to tell?

I make documentaries to learn about more about the stories and people who inspirit me and really cherish the opportunity to share that though film. 

What inspired you to make this film in particular?

Co-Director Anna Palmer was working with Tribal communities with a USDA Grant program and I attended some conferences with her where we heard from Native community leaders that their land management practices were not being given enough credit and respect. We begin discussion with a few people in the film about helping to share their work through film and slowly developed a team to help make that happen!

Have you seen any changes with the issues explored since the film began making the rounds?

As the climate crises continues to escalate environmental challenges such as wildfires, droughts and floods are challenging our governments and NGOs to explore alternative strategies to managing land beyond the conventional practices. In light of this many institutions are turning to Indigenous communities and Tribes for help with these land management strategies and there is a huge opportunity for agencies to help right the many wrongs that have been done to these communities by empowering them with land management rights and land back programs. 

California’s Cal Fire for instance is now taking advice from Tribes on how to best use prescribed burning practices to help protects homes. Unfortunately it has taken these issues to get to a more dire level for these agencies to honor Native Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) but hopefully this is a trend that continues in this direction.

Do you have any projects you are currently working on?

We are working to continue sharing the stories of the subjects in the film by providing camera kits so they can share their own stories in a more intimate video journal style. We will be editing the footage and sharing this series on our website and social media pages. Stay tuned!!!!!

How has COVID impacted your filmmaking?

It was been very slow to restart any filming in the field but it has helped us shift gears and think about ways we can empower our film subjects with cameras to film their stories themselves. 

Filmmaking is a laborious job, so what keeps you motivated?

We are continually inspired by all the stories we help to get share through our work and know that there is a lifetime of work to be done to uplift voices who have been marginalized. 

What are you currently reading/watching/listening to?

Inspired by our recent discovery of the documentary Flee, book Changes In The Land, podcast The Red Nation Podcast

What is on the horizon for you in 2022 and beyond?

We are developing an off shoot web series from our film INHABITANTS and starting to work on a feature film about the Lenape Munsee Tribe moving back to New York City and the Hudson Valley.