Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 24, 2004 - Issue 105


pictograph divider


Navajo filmmaker's 'Shush' chosen for Sundance

by Levi J. Long - The Navajo Times
credits: photo - Larry Blackhorse Lowe, right.

Larry Blackhorse Lowe, right.MESA, Ariz. - As a youngster growing up in Nenahnezad, N.M., Larry Blackhorse Lowe would act out scenes from "Conan the Barbarian" and "Indiana Jones."

"That's where it all started," Lowe, 25, said of his career in film and directing.

But now Lowe has made the big leap from student filmmaker to Sundance Film Festival honoree.

"Shush," an eight-minute film written and directed by Lowe, was selected to be screened in the Indigenous Films category at the festival held in Park City, Utah Jan. 15 to 25.

The festival screens cutting-edge independent films and documentaries from around the world. When the festival is over, awards are given to directors at the Sundance Film Festival Awards as chosen by a jury and an audience vote.

"Sundance is one of the biggest and most well-known festivals in America. If you're there you know you've made it to the top," Lowe said. "So it feels good to know that I'm in that company."

Some of the films that have been screened at Sundance in the past include, "Reservoir Dogs," "Hoop Dreams," "Memento," "The Blair Witch Project," "In the Bedroom," "The Good Girl" and "Thirteen."

"Shush" will be screened with 15 other films in the Indigenous Films category including "49?" by Coeur d'Alene author Sherman Alexie and "Two Cars, One Night" by Taika Waititi.

Lowe said being chosen for Sundance is an honor considering that he made the film while he was a student in the film department at Scottsdale Community College. Lowe was the first student filmmaker from SCC's film program department to make it to Sundance.

Lowe said he's also proud that "Shush" beat out other works from rival film programs at Arizona State University and University of California-Los Angeles.

But he remains especially proud that he's the only Navajo director in the film program who made it to Sundance.

"It's pretty cool because most of my crew tends to be on the brown side," Lowe said. He said most minorities in the program do well but to achieve an honor like Sundance has its merits.

While Lowe was attending SCC, he started his own production company, Blackhorse Films, and has decided to pursue film fulltime.
"All I needed to learn about were the tools needed for making films," Lowe said.

The production company is based out of his home in Mesa. Currently Lowe is producing a documentary about Native American artists and their work.

Of his films, Lowe said he captures the reality of Navajo people and stays away from cliché films about Native Americans. Lowe said he wrote the screenplay for "Shush" with that in mind by showing contemporary native people involved with real world problems such as domestic violence.

"Shush" is about an urban Indian family whose daughter is in an abusive relationship and whose brother, "Shush," takes matters in his own hands to protect the family.

Nicholas Keefee, 22, of the San Carlos Apache Nation, plays the lead role.

"It's a movie piece that I've always wanted to do and it's also a character I've wanted to play for a long time," Keefee said of his lead role. He said that his character's strong emotions play out well in the film and can relate to those extremes.

Two Navajo cast members said they are honored to be a part of "Shush" and the Sundance nomination.

Sheldon Silentwalker, 27, originally from Chinle, said this has been the biggest project he's done since he began acting a couple of years ago.

"I don't think there is a word big enough to express how I happy I feel," Silentwalker said. "Being in Sundance is big and to be in something like this is amazing."

He said that being in a Sundance film will help his career with future film roles. He has had three other roles in independent films and has done a commercial for the fast-food chain Whataburger.

Shawna Begay, 27, originally from Window Rock, portrayed Terry in the film. Begay is also studying film at SCC and said it's important to get more Native American directors in the film industry.

"We need them out there because it's important to portray the truth about native people," Begay said. She said that "Shush" does this well.

"I think it's awesome. Larry is an up and coming director, though he can be controversial, but anything coming from the heart is good," Begay said, referring to some of the violent scenes in "Shush."

Lowe said that's what makes his films stand out from the norm.

"Violence is a reality, as it is for all people, but it's good to show Navajo people as regular human beings because they suffer through the same emotions as everyone else," Lowe said. "We're not all feathers, flutes and fry bread. We are a modern people with traditional values set in a modern world."

To get more information on "Shush" e-mail or call 602-326-3764. For more information about Sundance Film Festival head to

Mesa, AZ Map

Maps by Travel

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!