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Navajo Film Themselves  (1966)

Navajo Film Themselves (1966)
October 25, 2014 - 3:00 pm

In 1966, communications scholar Sol Worth and anthropologist Peter Adair undertook a project to impart documentary filmmaking skills to Navajo people.  The resulting works have been debated as to what they reveal about Native perspectives, but are now regarded as canonical works of visual anthropology, and stand as early glimpses of possibilities for Native American cinematic expression on its own terms.

Old Antelope Lake (1966)

Directed by Mike Anderson.

A portrait of a lake: its sources, and its place in natural and human cycles.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 13 min.


Spirit of the Navajo (1966)

Directed by Mary Jane Tsosie, Maxine Tsosie.

The filmmakers’ father, a respected medicine man, enacts a ceremony.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 17 min.


A Navajo Weaver (1966)

Directed by Susie Benally.

Susie Benally’s mother Alta Kahn, a renowned rug-weaver, demonstrates the many processes of her art.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 22 min.


The Shallow Well Project (1966)

Directed by Johnny Nelson.

Johnny Nelson documents the construction of a water well, supervising both the project and the filmic record.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 15 min.


The Navajo Silversmith (1966)

Directed by Johnny Nelson.

Elaborate silver figures are cast in sandstone molds by a master craftsman.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 22 min.


Intrepid Shadows (1966)

Directed by Al Clah.

Mystic powers are suggested in this cryptic, captivating film.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 18 min.


Second Weaver (1966)

Directed by Alta Kahn.

Alta Kahn, featured in A Navajo Weaver, recorded several rug-weaving processes performed by her daughter, Susie Benally.

DigiBeta from 16mm, b/w, silent, 9 min.


Total running time approx. 120 min.