Fire Tender

Fire Tender

Fire Tender is a short documentary amplifying the voices and efforts of Yurok tribal members as they engage in cultural burning and other traditional practices toward ecological, cultural, and spiritual sustenance.

The film’s story centers around contemporary Yurok women and their efforts to return Indigenous relationship with fire to the land. Fire Tender is about heeding the knowledge of Indigenous lifeways toward healing and nourishing both land and people.


RONI JO DRAPER, Ph.D. (Yurok, she/her, Director, Producer, and Writer). Roni Jo is an enrolled member of the Yurok tribe from the village of Weispus (Weitchpec). Her experiences as a Yurok woman, as well as the realities and acute pain of discriminatory practices and policies enacted in school settings, has influenced her creative work, writing, and work as both teacher and scholar. 

Her work has focused on the past and ongoing erasure of Indigenous knowledge, histories, and futures. As such, she now turns her attention to storytelling practices outside of traditional academia—including poetry, basket-weaving, filmmaking, and other art forms—as a way to explore the human experience and share stories with others. She served as producer on Scenes from the Glittering World (Full Frame 2021), which documents the lives of Navajo youth coming of age on the fringes of the Navajo Nation.

MARISSA LILA (she/they, Director, Producer, Cinematographer). Marissa is a Thai-American documentarian who grew up in Hong Kong and Thailand and is now based in Salt Lake City. As a multicultural filmmaker, she directs and produces projects with characters who cross boundaries set by dominant cultures or identities. Marissa’s projects have been selected to play at international film festivals (DOC NYC, Camden, IFF, Big Sky Documentary FF, and MountainFilm). Two projects she produced, Transmormon and Oxygen to Fly, went viral with over 160 million total views.  These projects were featured in The Huffington Post, New York Times, The Atlantic, People Magazine, and Dazed.

Marissa is co-founder of OHO Media, a creative content agency for which Marissa creates documentaries and documentary-based branded content. Marissa directed, produced, and wrote for docu-reality television series The Generations Project, for which one of the episodes she produced won a Regional Emmy. Marissa also spent six years creating educational content to increase equitable outcomes for students inclusive of race, ethnicity, language, cultural, sexual orientation, or ability.

JENN LEE SMITH (she/her, Producer). For 20+ years, Jenn Lee (MA Human Geography) has focused on social impact work at the intersections of gender, race, environment, and religion. As a writer and researcher, Jenn Lee was awarded grants from The Asia Institute and The Social Science Research Council. She is a producer based in the San Francisco Bay area who has worked on Faithful and Long Haul, two award-winning LGBTQ shorts; Jane and Emma, a ReFrame Stamped feature narrative; and supported the feature-length documentaries Dilemma of Desire, Pray Away, and Bring Her Home.


To make a tax-deductible donation in support of the production of "Fire Tender" please make out a check payable to: Redford Center, Inc. and mail to PO Box 29144, San Francisco, CA 94129.  Be sure to write "Fire Tender" on the notes/memo line of the check. The Redford Center's Tax ID is 46-4549706.  If you would like to send funds by wire or ACH transfer, please reach out to Jonathan White at To make a donation online with a Paypal account or your credit card, CLICK HERE.

Visit the film’s website here.