May 28, 2013

Black Cat in Space

Navajo filmmaker needs funds to animate cats in space

By Kathaleen RobertsMelissa Henry grew up on the Navajo Reservation without running water or electricity.

She had no TV until one day her father hooked one up to his car battery. Between hookups, he spun stories about felines. His makeshift entertainment center exposed her to “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and “Battlestar Galactica.” The family always cared for an abundance of both barn cats and house cats.

The memories coalesced and intertwined. Her imagination soared beneath the canopy of stars that flickered and glowed without the glare of city lights.

“It was the mystery,” Henry said from her School for Advanced Research studio. “There’s something up there and we don’t know what it is. It gave me the opportunity to imagine different worlds out there.”

Those interstellar memories melded with observations of her cat Voodoo to produce her upcoming film “Black Cat in Space” during a three-month residency at SAR. Henry will unveil the results Wednesday in the facility’s boardroom as a 2013 Eric and Barbara Dobkin Native Artist Fellow.

Henry packed 210 tissue-layered, hand-drawn storyboards into a plastic box as she prepared for the end of her fellowship this month. She plans to put the project on Kickstarter to raise the estimated $25,000 she will need to turn her oil pastel drawings into an animated film.

The story of the good kitty who saves Earth from a planet-devouring feline is rooted in Navajo myth.

“It’s this monster who threatened the Earth, so these twin warriors came and killed him,” she said. “The lava rock at Mount Taylor is the blood of that monster.”
Comment:  For more on Navajo movies, see Navajo Star Wars Cast Chosen and Science-Fair Star Inspires Movie.

Below:  "Melissa Henry, Navajo, poses with storyboard renditions of Captain Meow, the hero of her upcoming movie, Black Cat in Space. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

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