Farmington — Bringing the local and international communities together to learn and talk about uranium is the focus of the International Uranium Film Festival.

The free film festival starts Monday in Window Rock, Ariz., and will show more than 40 documentaries and movies from 15 countries, including Australia, Germany and India. The films explore not only uranium but also the nuclear industry and its repercussions in communities worldwide.

"The whole point is to educate through art awareness," said Leona Morgan, who is Navajo and helped organize the event.

Uranium mining is an issue familiar to communities across the Navajo Nation. From 1944 to 1986, uranium mining occurred on the reservation, with many Diné working in mines and often raising families in close proximity to the mines and mills.

By the time mining activities ceased, nearly 4 million tons of uranium ore were extracted.

Today, there are more than 500 abandoned uranium mines, homes and drinking water sources, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The tribe enacted the Diné Natural Resources Protection Act in 2005, which prohibits uranium mining and processing within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.

There are at least 10 films focusing on the uranium legacy on the Navajo and the Southwest, including ones directed by Diné filmmakers.

One of the documentaries is "Dii'go Tó Baahane': Four Stories About Water," which focuses on the problems with contaminated drinking water on the reservation. The 33-minute film is in Navajo with English subtitles.

Another film is the 1983 documentary "The Four Corners: A National Sacrifice Area?" The film examines the cultural and environmental effects of uranium mining and milling, coal mining and oil shale extraction in the Four Corners.

In addition to the screenings, there will be presentations and panel discussions about uranium legacy issues still affecting the people and the land of the Navajo Nation.

If the museum's WiFi allows, Morgan said organizers will attempt to stream the presentations online at www.ustream.tv/channel/iuff-4you.

The film festival started in 2011 in Rio de Janeiro with the goal of informing the public from a neutral position about nuclear power, uranium mining, nuclear weapons and the health effects of radioactivity.

The festival's first stop in the United States was last week in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

After visiting Window Rock, the festival will head to New York City and Washington D.C. in February.

IF YOU GO

What: International Uranium Film Festival

When: On Monday, screenings are 1 to 5 p.m. On Tuesday, screenings run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On Wednesday, screenings go from 11 a.m. to noon. There will be presentations each day before and between film screenings.

Where: Navajo Nation Museum, Highway 264 and Loop Road, Window Rock, Ariz.

Cost: Free

More info: Contact Leona Morgan at 505-879-8547 or uraniumfilmfestival.org

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.