April 16, 2008

Films from Sheephead Films

Shonie De La Rosa recently sent me a compilation DVD of his Navajo-based films. I've mentioned some of them before, but here they are in one place.

The Last Great Hunt

A comedic short that stereotypes the early Native American with the eagle cries, flute music, war paint, and feathers we've come to expect from Hollywood. (Discussed in Dime-Store Indian vs. Stuffed Bunny.)

Al'keme 1345

Addiction is a painful disease no matter what the addiction may be. Through music and symbolism, this film follows one mans journey back to reality. Featuring the music of Keddah.

Mini-review by Steve Weiss of the Heard Museum:Lots of symbology and pharmaecuetical references. Kind of like a student music video, but with a really interesting consistent look...in the midst of the Navajo Red Rock country, they shot in a washed out black and white that made the landscape more ugly and blasted than warm and romantic. Showing a classic Navajo sand dune and then systematically destroying it, running across, tumbling down.

There was an anti-beauty to the filmmaker's message I found innovative.
Mile Post 398--Official Trailer

Mile Post 398 captures the essence of surviving day-to-day in the Navajo Nation as the demons of drink pound on the door. Ever since best friends Cloyd, Jimmy, and Marty were young, an alcoholic haze has surrounded them. Now Cloyd faces his last chance to break the chains that bind him. Will he let his past lead him astray again, or will he choose to save himself and his family? (Discussed in Mile Post 398 Debuts, Mile Post 398 Is Reality, and A Perfect Native Film?)

Yellow Dust

When the Navajo emerged into the 4th World, the Holy People gave them a choice between two powders: a yellow dust from the rocks and the pollen from corn. The Navajo chose corn pollen. The Holy People were content, but they warned the Navajo to leave the yellow dust in the ground. If it were ever disturbed, they said, it would bring evil.

Mini-review by Steve Weiss of the Heard Museum:Well executed cross-editing of archival footage of nuclear testing and uranium mining tailings and mine sites. Perhaps a little longer than needed, and best explained as a subject by the filmmaker after the screening. One of the better explanations of the festival.Also on the DVD:

Irrelevant Static
Director: Shonie De La Rosa
Experimental Short
Running Time: 36 min

Ed, who lives in seclusion, has lost his wife and son to a super strain of tuberculosis unleashed by terrorists that has killed millions around the globe. Ed has contracted the deadly disease, but continues to go about his day-to-day routine in his home with only a radio as his only connection to the outside world.

Rob's mini-review:  A Navajo man coughs up blood while the radio goes on about terrorism, biochemical warfare, and homeland security. I thought this film would draw a connection between foreign terrorism against the US and US terrorism against Indians, but it didn't. I was left pondering what it meant, if anything.

Considering that nothing much happens, I'd say Irrelevant Static is too long at 36 minutes. A film 1/6th the length probably would've been better.

Plus another film from Sheephead Films:

D.C. Navajo

A short film about a graphic artist trying to collect his pay from the Navajo Nation's Washington DC office. (Discussed in Navajos Try to Censor Satire? and Shirley Laughs at D.C. Navajo.)

For more on Sheephead Films, visit its official website. For more on Native films in general, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Howdy Rob,

Yeah, ain't Shonie a great filmmaker???