PARK CITY, UT—Navajo film director, Blackhorse Lowe, will screen his latest film, “Shimásání,” a short created with the 2007 New Mexico/New Visions Award will screen at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival from January 21—31, 2010 in Park City, Utah. The story, inspired by the director’s family history and environment, is infused with his love for film by invoking the spirits of cinema masters Akira Kurosawa, Zacharias Kunuk and Jean-Luc Godard. A serious contemplation in the art of film makes this short docu-drama a cinematic milestone in Native American movie-making.
“Shimásání” was created in large part by the 2007 New Mexico/New Visions Award by the state that included a Panavision camera package award using Kodak film, enabling the inspired Lowe to shoot on film using an anamorphic lens to create a cinematic experience set on the Navajo reservation in the 1920s. To Lowe, who wrote, directed and edited the film, “I wanted to shoot Shimásání on the most beautiful cinematic format available, so shooting black and white 35 anamorphic was really the only choice. With it I was able to achieve an authentic sense of a time, place and people rarely presented on the screen, whereas digital or other grades of film wouldn’t have allowed that reality to come through as it truly is. ”
Known for casting family members and pushing them out of their comfort zone, Lowe’s final outcome is a cathartic experience reminiscing the stark landscaped backdrop of Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” with the inner emotional turbulence of Godard’s “Contempt” in a personal story about a woman coming-of-age whose family obligation to tend the sheep with her mother conflicts with her desire to attend boarding school, a contrary concept to most Native experiences.
“Shimásání (Navajo for ‘maternal grandmother’) is based on my grandmother’s story of wanting to go to boarding school. To her this offered a chance for intellectual stimulation and an opportunity for a better life. The boarding school experience for most Native Americans is not a happy one, but this story offered a different perspective on the whole situation.” (Blackhorse Lowe, on the subject of the film)
Blackhorse Lowe, whose roster of films includes his first feature film which showcased at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, “5th World” and his debut short film, “Shush” that screened at the festival in 2004. Lowe was the recipient of the 2007 Renew Media Grant for his screenplay “Left-Handed Path,” a project he also work-shopped as a fellow of the 2006 Sundance Writer’s and Producer’s Lab. “Shimásání” recently screened at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, Academy Award nominating festival, LA Shorts Fest and won two Honourable Mention Awards at the ImagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, Canada. He was one of 25 film directors that participated in First Nations/First Features, a touring showcase of first features films by world indigenous directors presented by The Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the American Indian and New York University.
“Shimásání” stars an all-Navajo cast with impressive crew of Native producers, Chad Burris, Chickasaw, who produced the award-winning films by Seminole director Sterlin Harjo, “Barking Water,” “Four Sheets to the Wind,” and “Goodnight, Irene;” Heather Rae, Cherokee, whose production “Frozen River” was nominated for two Academy Awards and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; Nanobah Becker, Navajo, a fellow alumni of the Tribeca Film Institute’s All Access program, whose short film “Conversion” screened at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Both Chad Burris and Heather Rae have two feature films at this year’s Sundance, “The Dry Land” starring America Ferrera produced by Rae and “The Killer Inside Me” by Michael Winterbottom, executive produced by Burris. Shimásání’s director of photography, Smokey Nelson, also worked on camera for 2010 Sundance pick “Blue Valentine” starring Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling and directed by Derek Cianfrance.
Sundance Screening dates for “Shimásání” are:
Program: Shorts Program V
Friday, January 22, 11:30 a.m. at Prospector Square Theatre, Park City;
Saturday, January 23, 5:30 p.m. at Library Center Theatre, Park City;
Sunday, January 24, 3:45 p.m. at Broadway Centre Cinemas V, SLC;
Wednesday, January 27, 9:00 a.m. at Holiday Village Cinema IV, Park City;
Saturday, January 30, 6:00 p.m. at Egyptian Theatre, Park City.
Founded by Robert Redford in 1981, Sundance Institute is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the development of original storytelling in film and theatre, and presents the annual Sundance Film Festival. Internationally recognized for its artistic development programs for directors, screenwriters, producers, film composers, playwrights and theatre artists, Sundance Institute has nurtured such projects as Angels in America, Spring Awakening, Boys Don’t Cry and Born into Brothels. http://www.sundance.org
For ticketing and screening information, visit the Sundance Film Festival website at http://festival.sundance.org/2010 or contact their Park City Office at Park City, UT: (435) 658-3456. To attend press screenings, please contact Michelle Svenson and/or Robert Cangiano at Killer Whale PR+M and the Sundance Film Festival Press Office: Lauren Larson, Publicity Coordinator, Shorts Programs at (435) 776 7934 or Lauren_larson@sundance.org
Press kit including images and press clips available.