Navajo Film Festival finds new home in Shiprock

Event scheduled for June 22 at performing arts center

Mike Easterling
Farmington Daily Times
Tina Deschenie, right, served as emcee of the inaugural Navajo Film Festival last year in Farmington. This year's event takes place in June in Shiprock.

FARMINGTON — Organizers of the Navajo Film Festival have settled on a new home and date for an event that celebrates the best in Navajo-language cinema.

The second annual festival will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at the Phil L. Thomas Performing Arts Center just west of Shiprock High School off U.S. Highway 64. The event will be hosted by comic Chizz Bah, a Farmington resident.

Festival director Tacey Atsitty and co-organizer Michael Lewis had been looking for a new home for the festival for several months. Last year's inaugural event took place at Navajo Preparatory School in Farmington and attracted an audience of approximately 100 people.

Atsitty has expressed her gratitude to Navajo Prep for providing the festival with a home last year, but she and Lewis were intent on finding a location this year that was more appropriate for the screening of films. She believes she's found one with the performing arts center.

"It's really nice," she said. "It's theater size, and it addresses some of the issues we had last year. There's plenty of space, and there's close parking."

It also is located on the Navajo Nation, which is no small consideration, Atsitty said.

Tacey Atsitty

"The location is more central, and it's a little bit more known to the community," she said.

The deadline for submissions for this year's festival is May 25, and all entries must be filmed entirely in the Navajo language. Submissions can be no longer than 4 minutes in length, and participation is open to anyone, regardless of ethnicity.

The festival features a $300 grand prize with smaller cash prizes going to the best films in adult and youth categories. Atsitty has said the festival is designed to encourage the work of young filmmakers especially.

More:Organizers hope for growth in second year of Navajo Film Festival

"We're really looking forward to this year and looking forward to a lot of participation," she said. "I really want to encourage our youth to think about it."

Atsitty said she is optimistic this year's festival will reach a new level.

"I've gotten a lot of good feedback online about people saving the date and putting it on their calendar and supporting the filmmakers," she said.

To submit a film for inclusion in the festival, visit

Mike Easterling can be reached at 505-564-4610.