September 08, 2007

Hungry for Turquoise Rose

Navajo film reaches across cultural linesThe movie Turquoise Rose, filmed on the Navajo Reservation, has found a Native American audience hungry for films that reflect its culture. But director Travis Hamilton, who grew up in Idaho, is also hoping his film can educate non-Natives.

"At the heart of my intentions of making the film was helping people understand," Hamilton said. "This is who these people are."
What it's about:It's the story of a college-age Navajo, raised in Phoenix, apart from her cultural roots, who is summoned to the reservation to care for her ailing grandmother.

Much of the film was written while Hamilton was deployed in Iraq. His signal brigade from the Arizona National Guard accompanied the first Army soldiers who entered that country in 2003.
Why people are responding:Hamilton said he is hearing from urban-raised Native Americans who share the title character's disconnection from their culture. "We're having Navajo natives that have seen it three or four times," he said. "That's letting us know we're hitting on some chord that is ringing true in Native America."

One Navajo woman, after seeing the film, told Hamilton that she was going to take her children up to the reservation to visit their grandmother and reconnect with their roots. "But then there was a man, a non-Native," Hamilton said. "When he saw the film, it caused him to take a weeklong trip back to New Jersey and see people he hadn't seen for a while.


Anonymous said...

Im still waiting for a "real" native american movie depiction.A majority of natives are more urban than you think and a unique story line featuring those scenarios minus the alcoholism do exist.

Rob said...

I don't have to think about it. I know the majority of Indians live in cities rather than on reservations.

A few movies--e.g., Flags of Our Fathers, The Business of Fancydancing, Now & Forever--feature urban Indians. A few more--e.g., Turquoise Rose, Imprint, the Hillerman TV movies--feature urban Indians who return to the rez. But you're right: Urban Indians are woefully underrepresented in movies and other entertainment media.