Director Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Creek) has been described as “one of the most truthful and honest voices working in American cinema today.” In 2006 he was selected as one of the inaugural recipients (and the first Native American recipient) of the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship, which is supported by a consortium of major foundations. He was selected for a 2006 Media Arts Fellowship from Renew Media. In the same year, he won the Creative Promise Award from Tribeca All Access for his script Before the Beast Returns (working title).
Harjo’s 2008 dramatic feature Barking Water premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was the only American film to play in the Venice Days section of the 2009 Venice Film Festival. He is one of seven innovative indigenous filmmakers who participated in the Embargo Collective, a project launched in 2008 by imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival. The works produced by the collective, including Harjo’s Cepanvkuce Tutcenen/Three Little Boys, premiered at imagineNATIVE in 2009, and were selected for screening in the 2010 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2011 Native American Film + Video Festival.
Harjo's first feature film, Four Sheets to the Wind, premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and has been widely screened nationally and internationally at film festivals and art cinemas. To enable concentrated work on this production, Harjo was selected in 2004 as one of the Sundance Institute's first five Annenberg Film Fellows, a multi-year program launched to provide filmmakers with financial support and full involvement in Sundance's professional workshops. Goodnight, Irene, which premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, was cited for Special Jury Recognition at the Aspen Shortsfest.
In 2010 Harjo served as a jury member for the Sundance Film Festival and in 2009 as an advisor for the Sundance Institute Ford Foundation Film Fellowship. In 2008 he was a member of the faculty for the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute. Harjo grew up in Holdenville, Oklahoma, and now lives in Tulsa.
"Making a film is a very scary thing. You just put your
heart into it and hope that things go right. You also hope that
special things happen during the process that you didn't expect.
So much is out of your hands, but you have to make a film that
you are proud of
hopefully other people will like it as well."
Screened by NMAI
Image credits: Sterlin
Harjo - courtesy of the filmmaker; Sterlin
Harjo - photograph by James Kinestino (Saulteaux)