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Young filmmakers showcased at the Reel Iina Film Festival

Young filmmakers showcased at the Reel Iina Film Festival

MONTEZUMA CREEK, Utah

An outdoor inflatable movie screen with Montezuma Creek as a backdrop set the stage for the 1st annual Reel Iina Film Festival hosted by the Iina Bihoo’ah Program.

Nineteen filmmakers ranging in age from 10 to 24 created the short films.

The films covered cultural identity, mental health awareness and music videos.

Navajo Times | Crystal Ashike
Iina Bihoo’aah Youth Coordinator Sahar Khadjenoury and a group of volunteers and interns prepare the movie screen for the 1st Annual Reel Iina Film Festival in Montezuma Creek, Utah on June 3. The event was hosted by Utah Navajo Health Services.

Film submissions included tribal members from the Yakama Nation in Washington state.

The uplifting program advocates behavioral health and wellness among community members, especially the youth.

It is part of Utah Navajo Health Services and is passionately cared for by the Iina Bihoo’aah Youth Coordinator Sahar Khadjenoury.

“It is for youth to show themselves,” said Khadjenoury, observing youth setting up the movie screen. “They are proud of where they come from.”

Khadjenoury, with the help of young volunteers and interns, organized filmmaking workshops and the film festival through the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Tiana Sam, 19, from Montezuma Creek, submitted a film about a children’s book called “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney, which Sam translated into Navajo.

Navajo Times | Crystal Ashike
Iina Bihoo’aah Program youth coordinator assistant Shania Whitney pops popcorn at the 1st Annual Reel Iina Film Festival hosted by Utah Navajo Health Services’ Iina Bihoo’aah Program in Montezuma Creek, Utah on June 3.

“My mom is a teacher, and she uses it,” said Sam. “It is important for kids to share with parents.”

Besides the film festival, the Iina Bihoo’ah Program served the community during the pandemic by chopping wood, distributing food and relief and holding workshops.


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