The Navajo Films

Though truly experimental, these seven gems are rarely screened and have mostly gone unnoticed by the experimental film crowd. In 1966 anthropologist John Adair and filmmaker Sol Worth gave cameras, film, and minimal technical instruction to seven Navajo, most of whom had seen little cinema or TV, and let them film themselves. They recorded mostly physical tasks—weaving, washing clothes, digging a well—but invariably linked process and product to human labor and the land. The images have the freshness of objects seen for the first time, while the many jump cuts, which seem abrupt at first, emphasize what's left out and imply that the films are transitory documents of a larger reality. 122 min.

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