Building’s water damage ruins American Indian Film Festival archive items!

Posted By PowWow Articles April 8th, 2019 Last Updated on: January 19th, 2022

On December 11th, 2018 the American Indian Film Festival office suffered major water damage when a water heater located on the floor above the office malfunctioned and poured water all over archives and artifacts that were stored in the office space.

The building the office was in is rented space, however, their insurance does not cover the $50,000 needed to restore these one of a kind artifacts.

The following are excerpts from their GoFundMe page where they hope to raise enough money to repair these historical items.


We have used this festival office space to house our archival belongings for the last 2 1/2 years. The day we discovered the damage, we were informed by building management that the incident had actually occurred a week prior.

The incident left us with damaged items including: original (signed) festival prints going as far back as 1975, 43 years of festival posters, boxes of water damaged video archival media tapes, soaked festival program books from the ’70s, '80s & '90s, soaked computers & electronics, and waterlogged office furniture. 


Due to the humidity build-up in the room, hazardous mold/fungi formed onto our festival prints/posters, admin files, and books. The hazardous air quality in the room brought us to seek the professional help of a property restoration company where they immediately began the removal of our highly sensitive water/mold damaged contents. The team worked quickly for 2 weeks leading up to the holidays as we were being pressured by the building management to vacate the premises as soon as possible. In the 2 weeks spent clearing out our festival office, the restoration company removed heavily impacted items and transported them to their facility for further restoration processing in their Thermal Vacuum Freeze Dryers. In addition, we filled up two moving trucks of assorted items, from files to archival festival programs, stacks of posters (framed and unframed), and office furniture which had to be taken to landfill as they were unrepairable. 

As one truck went to the restoration facility and another to landfill, we still had our last remaining items in the office that had been untouched by the water.  Leading up to New Years, we assembled a tiny crew of friends and family to help us move our remaining items from the building and into a rental storage facility in San Francisco.


By mid-January, I was able to find a new home base for AIFI and relocate us to the Intersection for the Arts building, a shared workspace located on Market Street in San Francisco, where we rent a desk for the time being. 


The catastrophic incident has left our organization devastated and in a vulnerable spot as we are now needing to raise $50,000 to pay the restoration fee services which include: specialized HEPA cleaning protocols, hazardous testing, removal and disposal of black water and mold/fungi damaged materials, repairs, transportation, sorting and packing damaged items, technical specialist, general laborers, moving trucks, waste removal services, and thermal vacuum freeze drying. 

At the moment, I am a one-woman team navigating my way through these waters. Any assistance you can provide at this time would be greatly appreciated as I work to overcome this hurdle. 

With Respect,
Mytia Zavala, Executive Director
American Indian Film Institute

Click the link HERE to visit their GoFundMe page.

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