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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Review: Sci-fi film highlights alum, fails authenticity

    Holt+Hamilton+Productions

    Holt Hamilton Productions

    Science fiction, Native American film and UA alumni converge in “Legends from the Sky,” a film with an intriguing premise of culture and supernatural phenomenon.

    “Legends from the Sky” had a limited release on eight screens in the Southwest, one of which was the Tucson Harkins Spectrum 18 this past weekend. The film is one of many that deals with the theme of a soldier returning home after a traumatic experience overseas.

    Unlike other films exploring post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans, “Legends of the Sky” deals with sci-fi elements that are entwined with the mythological elements of native culture. The film takes root in the Navajo Nation and uses the nation’s language among various Navajo actors, two of which are local comedians to the tribe — James Bilagody and Ernie Tsosie III.

    Hearing the Navajo language spoken by actual Navajos did add to the movie’s authenticity.

    “We wanted to do some of the film in Navajo,” said Travis Hamilton, producer for the film. “There’s not a lot of fluent speakers in the age range we were looking for.”

    Unfortunately, although actors spoke Navajo in the film, little of the dialogue had any Navajo cultural references, making the decision to include it at all seem after-the-fact.

    The film seemed to parallel current issues on the Navajo reservation regarding protests to the fracking industry near Chaco Canyon. In the film, this is depicted as supernatural elements on Navajo land being harvested for the government’s use. The plot supports a history of distrust with the government, given the long history of clashes between the U.S. and the Navajo Nation.

    The protagonist, Lyle,  is played by Edsel Pete, a UA alumnus who made his film debut in “Legends from the Sky.”

    Travis Hamilton, an independent filmmaker and the film’s director, said Pete auditioned in Albuquerque, N.M., and he had the added bonus of being fluent in Navajo and having military experience. The man who played Lyle’s grandfather in the film, Thomas Begay, had military experience as a Navajo Code Talker and was a Korean War veteran, according the film’s Kickstarter campaign website.

    Pete and others who were fluent in Navajo helped actors with their speech. According to Hamilton, Pete was always ready for the next scene and strived to do his best.

    “[My] first time acting was very diverse and exciting,” Pete said. “It was a unique challenge, and applying teamwork was paramount. … Many elements [and] departments were involved with one shot; precision and repetition was just as important as knowing the role [or] character.”

    Despite the film’s ambitious efforts — and its bonus of having a Wildcat in its midst — its attempt at authenticity fails to deliver.

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    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter.

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