Adventure Seeker: Ariel grew up in tiny Unlakleet, AK - one of the most remote towns in the United States. A place where the next town over was a 20 minute flight away! Following in the footsteps of her hard working parents, she became a pilot and with it gained on an intense desire to break free from her little corner of the world to see and meet as many new people as possible. Soon she found herself traveling to places from Boston to Tokyo, with a childlike sense of wonder and enthusiasm for each new adventure.
Luck Strikes: One such escapade led her to Southern California, where on a lar, she became a contestant on ABC's summer hit series "Wipeout". Producers on the show with an eye for talent immediately recognized her magnetic personality as star material, and helped her pitch and sell a show of her own to the Discovery Channel. The reality series "Flying Wild Alaska" followed the lives of Ariel and her family as they ran the family airline business for three full seasons until finally her parents decided they wanted to a return to their preferred humble, non-televised lifestyle.
But Not Ariel!: She instead moved on to all-new exciting adventures, including creating her own animated cartoon series, making frequent quest spots on the "The Late Late Show" with Craig Ferguson, an appearance on "The Late Show" with David Letterman and various co-hosting appearances on El's stalwart series "Extra".
New Adventures: Ariel's humor, excitement, sincerity and deep connection with her Inupiaq Eskimo heritage made her the perfect fit to host the series alongside Sundance Institute's own Bird Runningwater.
A Guiding Spirit: Bird Runningwater belongs to the Cheyenne and Mescalero Apache Peoples, and was reared on the Mescalero Apache Reservation in New Mexico. Since 2001, he has guided the Sundance Institute's investment in Native American Screenwriters, Directors and Producers while building a global Indigenous film community. He has nurtured a new generation of filmmakers whose films have put Native Cinema on the cultural map.
Ambition Leads to Success: Runningwater is based in Los Angeles, California where he serves as the Director of Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Program. In this capacity he oversees the NativeLab Film Fellowship and the Indigenous Producers Initiative, the Sundance Film Festival’s Native Forum, and was recently appointed to spearhead the Institute’s Diversity work across all programs.
Runningwater has also established filmmaker Labs in New Zealand and Australia, which have spawned such projects as The Strength of Water (NZ); Samson and Delilah (AUS), Bran Nue Dae (AUS) and Here I Am (AUS). The Native Program also collaborates with the other artist programs of the Institute and scouts world-wide and across the United States for Indigenous artists with projects that can be supported through the Institute’s Feature Film Program, the Creative Producers Summit/Creative Producing Fellowship, and Sundance Film Festival.
Among the filmmakers and projects he has identified for support include Sterlin Harjo, his Spirit Award-nominated Four Sheets to the Wind and his follow-up feature Barking Water; Academy Award nominee Taika Waititi, his feature debut Eagle vs Shark and his follow-up feature Boy; Billy Luther's award-winning Miss Navajo and his 2nd feature documentary Grab; Andrew Okpeaha MacLean's Sundance Film Festival Jury Prize winning Sikumi and his feature debut On The Ice which was awarded the Crystal Bear Award and the Best First Feature Prize at the 61st Berlinale; And most recently Aurora Guerrero's Mosquita Y Mari. Forthcoming projects include: Sydney Freeland’s Drunktown’s Finest; and Yolanda Cruz’ La Raya.
Beginning a New Adventure: Highly sought after for his expertise and knowledge, Runningwater was the first choice to host the Native Shorts series and handpicked Ariel Tweto as his co-host.