|Dine' Manuelito and Jennifer Wheeler at Agua Caliente Film Fest|
Photo Brenda Norrell
Outside the box, Indigenous filmmakers reinventing the industry
By Brenda Norrell
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Darth Vader speaking Dine' is not something to be missed. Star Wars in Navajo was a crowd favorite tonight at the Agua Caliente Native American Film Fest, along with an eclectic, and electric, mix of shorts.
Manuelito Wheeler, director of the Navajo Museum in Window Rock, introduced Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope, which is in Dine'. Manuelito's wife Jennifer, an assistant professor of English at the University of New Mexico Gallup, described the team effort of translating Star Wars into Dine'.
Jennifer said there was a team of five Navajos translating the sci-fi classic Star Wars into Dine'. Jennifer and Joe Kee, also an assistant professor at UNM Gallup, were on the team. Both read and write Dine'. Jennifer described the process and challenges of translating Star Wars into the descriptive language of Dine'.
The talent, and wide range of Indigenous filmmaking were on display tonight during the screening of seven short films.
Three Poems by Heid Erdrich was rich with poetry and experimental art, reveling in new filmmaking. Ivan and Ivan, a documentary shot in Russia, reveals the tenderness between a grandson and his grandparents as they tend a herb of caribou, build their fire and drink their tea. It is touching to watch the grandson leave the high country for school as he is picked up for the journey in what looks to be an old armored tank.
Miss Chief Justice of the Piece is totally out of the box, and beyond the edge. This one you have to watch for yourself as it explores wannabes, redemption and crossing the boundaries of prejudice and stereotypes with humor and acceptance.
Described as visionaries, the filmmakers works tonight included HuyHuy (Trade) from the US, Wakening from Canada, 7 Lifetimes from Canada, and Kinoomaage-Asin (Teaching Rock) from Canada.
The festival, with Indigenous actress Tantoo Cardinal present throughout the festival, concluded tonight this week's power packed festival of Indigenous films.