Navajo Film Themselves/Through Navajo Eyes at Penn Museum

August 22, 2012

Behind the Scenes Film

This summer (2012) an intern from Kenyon College, Melanie Shelton, spent over 320 hours doing research in the Sol Worth papers at University of Pennsylvania. During this time, she constructed a website based on manuscripts from the Navajo Film Themselves/Through Navajo Eyes project.

Alta Kahn filming Susie Benally with Bell and Howell camera

The original project took place in 1966 in Pine Springs, Arizona and resulted in a group of films made by Navajo filmmakers, trained by Sol Worth in the use of 16mm movie cameras.  More recently, the film archivist of Penn Museum has worked with the Library of Congress to restore the original films; for which we now have fine grain master prints. As well, we will be able to release a DVD of the restored films this fall.

Susie Benally teaching her mother Alta Kahn how to edit

A major aim of the work is to return some income to the original filmmakers. Next year, if this is agreeable to the original filmmakers and their families, the Archives plan to collaborate with younger Navajo filmmakers in sharing unused footage from the project in new documentaries. There is much more to know about this project and its history so please visit the site to learn more.