© Ryan Waneka / HIFFCO

Déwi (dae-wee) is a mixed-race Native Bornean and independent film director and editor based in Louisville, Colorado. She was born in Bandung, Indonesia, in 1978, to a young Indonesian birthmother who named her Dewi, and descends from Orang Banjar, Dayak, and Sunda to whom she attributes her Indigenous worldview; and an English birthfather to whom she attributes her lighter-skinned privilege. She was adopted as an infant by white, middle-class American parents who named her Amy, loved her deeply, and raised her in Lexington, Kentucky, with multiple journeys back to Southeast Asia for her father's work as a geographer and academic. As far back as she can remember, she’s seen the world through cinematic eyes, made sense of her life through music, and found truth outside of the mainstream.

After graduating with a journalism degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, Déwi's love of nature and story led her to Washington, D.C., in 2000, where she edited magazines for conservation nonprofits. In 2011, she made her first two documentaries in Yosemite National Park, and two years later, dove into filmmaking full time. Having spent years observing a conservation movement that's disproportionately white, she founded and co-directed the National Park Experience film series, amplifying BIPOC narratives in the outdoors via documentary films— including her first feature— that appeared in national parks, film festivals, and on PBS and nationalgeographic.com. She has since dedicated her career to narrative correction, using the camera to center Indigenous voices and break from dominant settler storytelling and colonial worldviews.

Déwi's short film, ARA, UNTAMED, is a personal account of her racial awakening, triggered by the Black Lives Matter uprising in the Summer of 2020, and her struggle to engage her then-7-year-old daughter as she transitioned from blending to dissenting in their white suburban community. She and her life+creative partner, Jason Houston, are also in production on an experimental body of work that explores Indigeneity lost, then reclaimed, as Déwi and other transracial adoptees break from their white communities and reconnect with ancestral stories, language, ceremony, and culture in an urgent call to address the climate crisis facing humanity. This project was the focus of her recent fellowship at Cine Fe.

Déwi has directed, cast, produced, filmed, and edited for a wide range of clients, including the BBC, The Discovery Channel, Exposure Labs, ProPublica, and nonprofit organizations like Rare. She is a proud member of the Asian American Documentary Network, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Cine Fe, Film Fatales, and Kin Theory. She loves collaborating on Indigenous-led film projects that uphold sovereignty both on and off camera, and push the creative boundaries of documentary.

Déwi's work has been supported by generous individuals, foundations, nonprofit organizations, production companies, media outlets, and brands. In addition to filmmaking, she also serves as a mentor, story consultant, workshop coach, guest instructor, festival programmer, festival juror, and panelist, with guest appearances ranging from Costa Rica to Yale.

© Ryan Waneka / HIFFCO