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Long journey pays off: Navajo filmmaker’s ‘Fukry,’ eight years in the making, to screen as part of festival

MorningStar Angeline and Lydell Mitchell in a scene from the film “Fukry.” (Courtesy of Blackhorse Lowe)

It took Blackhorse Lowe nearly eight years to get his production from script to screen.

The journey had many ups and downs, yet he persevered.

The Navajo filmmaker’s feature film “Fukry” will screen at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival beginning on Wednesday, Oct. 14.

With state health orders still in effect, the festival will be mostly virtual this year.

But that doesn’t dampen Lowe’s spirits.

“Getting eyes on the film is what it’s all about,” he says. “The film is proof that we were able to overcome the many challenges along the way.”

The film tells the story of Ching Yazzie and friends as they get through unexpected encounters – the ups and downs of falling in and out of love or not at all.

Lowe wrote the script along with Sally Kewayosh and Lydell Mitchell. The film was shot in Albuquerque, with an all-Native American cast.

Navajo filmmaker Blackhorse Lowe (Courtesy of Blackhorse Lowe)

“Lydell and I wrote a draft of the film in 2010 when we were roommates,” Lowe explains. “We intented it to be a silly comedy. We got it to a halfway point and lost interest. We went about making other short films.”

In 2018, Lowe was about to move from Albuquerque to Tulsa, Oklahoma, after he was chosen as a Tulsa Artist Fellow.

He knew time was running out and found a stack of older screenplays.

In the pile was the script for “Fukry.”

Lowe then enlisted Kewayosh for help.

“Sally added a little bit more flavor,” he says. “She took the script to a new level.”

With a revised script in hand, Lowe began production – quickly.

The cast consists of Lowe, Mitchell, Nasheen Sleuth, Diego Lopez, Janae Collins, Jenny Gabrielle, MorningStar Angeline and others.

“MorningStar Angeline improvised some scenes for another short film I was making,” he says. “We meshed it together for this film.”

Filming took place from December 2018 through January 2019.

Locations included Central near Girard, as well as a University of New Mexico gallery.

A scene from the film “Fukry,” which is screening at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. (Courtesy of Blackhorse Lowe)

“We had friends lend us their houses,” he says. “We made a trip up to Santa Fe to shoot some more scenes.”

When it came to editing, the process took a while.

The crew had filmed an abundance of material, and difficult decisions had to be made.

“We had so many options,” Lowe says. “It was about 30 minutes of the film that I had taken out. It was hard to really pinpoint the best parts. Nine months later, the film was complete.”

This will be the first time the film has screened in New Mexico.

It debuted in Oklahoma and has been shown at festivals in New Zealand and Canada.

“I really dig everything about the film process,” he says. “I like to build an army of people, especially Native American actors, and feature them in the projects. It’s my way of making change.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email film@ABQjournal.com. Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.

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