While a film student at UCLA, Arlene Bowman (Diné) set out to document her grandmother’s life on the Navajo reservation. When grandmother stops cooperating, however, Bowman is drawn into an encounter with her personal history, her Navajo heritage, and her motives as a filmmaker. As she struggles to complete the project, the film grows ever more fascinating. Is Bowman a naïve, would-be ethnographer stumbling through the pitfalls of representation? Or is she dismantling from within the whole ethnographic project and the presumptions of outsiders who, for centuries, have assumed the right to “preserve” Native cultures? Navajo Talking Picture speaks to the complexities and pitfalls of representation no matter who’s behind the camera.—UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Itam Hakim, Hopiit
Director: Victor Masayesva Jr.
Made during the tricentennial of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, an uprising of Hopi and Pueblo peoples against the Spanish, Victor Masayesva Jr.’s (Hopi) film makes few concessions for non-Hopi audiences in its evocation of Hopi mythology and its upending of traditional documentary form. Over a kaleidoscopic montage of reservation life, historical photographs, and re-enactments, Ross Macaya, a Hopi elder, shares stories of his boyhood and the origins of the Hopi people. Past and future collapse into a layered present as Masayesva works to construct a visual language to document and express Hopi experience. For Masayesva, who has gained international recognition for his films and photography, Itam Hakim, Hopiit stands as an act of visual sovereignty.—UCLA Film & Television Archive. (85 mins., Beta SP)