August 02, 2007

Navajo innovation meets tradition

Annual Navajo Festival at MNA offers fresh perspectives on Diné culture"Innovation meets tradition at this year's Navajo festival," Anne Doyle, MNA's Heritage Program coordinator said. "Seventy-five artists will join performers and Heritage Insight speakers-all serving as cultural interpreters of today's Navajo world, both the traditional and the contemporary. We highlight language and film this year as tools of communication to illuminate and celebrate the Navajo experience."

Navajo director and filmmaker Bennie Klain is not afraid to tackle a difficult subject; his documentaries and fictional films challenge cultural assumptions and focus on the struggle of Indigenous artists to maintain their cultural identity. His newest film, Weaving Worlds, explores personal stories of Navajo weavers and their complex relationship with reservation traders. In the film, the weavers maintain a delicate balance between cultural survival, economic independence and motivation. Klain will show his film and offer discussion at 10:45 a.m., Saturday, and noon, Sunday.

Klain's films may not provide clear-cut answers, but rather provoke the viewers into examining some of the cultural challenges in America today. A fluent Navajo speaker, he meshes mainstream and Native storytelling techniques and incorporates his language into his work as much as possible; eighty percent of the dialog in Weaving Worlds is in Navajo.

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