Filmmaker Attempts to Shed Light on Navajo Nation’s COVID Crisis + Effort to Protect Its Most Vulnerable

  • 4 years ago

After visiting the Navajo nation earlier this month, filmmaker Karney Hatch (Overdrawn, Plant This Movie!) was overcome by the staggering number of cases and the scale of the loss facing the community and decided to volunteer in hopes of helping the Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund raise money by shooting some footage for their gofundme campaign. The Navajo Nation has been among the hardest hit by the virus and had lost over 4,000 people as of May 14. The cause, and Karney’s footage, were circulated internationally by news sources like PBS, ABC, and Al Jazeera, with the PBS News Hour eventually hiring Karney to shoot a full story.
Tragically, the news cycle has moved on while these communities and their members are left fighting for their lives. And, although there has been some press, nothing in the mainstream really goes to the heart of what’s happening and the ways in which native folks have experienced of this pandemic is part of a complex, traumatic, recurring history. For that, Karney is turning to documentary in hopes of crafting a more dynamic, deeper representation of the impacts of a loss that is both historic and part of an ongoing cycle of violence against, and disregard for, Native communities by the U.S. government. Writes Karney,“History is being written right now, can’t pass it up.”

For some context on how the COVID-19 crisis has taken shape among Native populations, a film from last year’s festival,  Dodging Bullets—Stories from Survivors of Historical Trauma (Bob Trench, 2018), is a thoughtful, complex, and detailed look at Historical Trauma as a unique and insidious part of the genetic code that conditions life across a large and variable swath of resilient Native American populations, which is thrown into sharp relief by episodes like the one unfolding in the present day.

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