Filmmaker Melissa Henry spent her childhood herding sheep, caring for livestock and playing in the forest. Today, she makes innovative Navajo-language films that appeal to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds.
Often featuring her pets and animals on her family’s land on the Navajo reservation, Henry’s films employ voiceovers to animate the thoughts and meanderings of the animals through the reservation landscape. The film “Run Red Walk” (2011) tells the story of a sheepish dog, named Red, who meets interesting characters in his search across Dinétah for the herd he has lost. In “Horse You See” (2010), a Navajo-speaking horse named Ross shares his philosophy about being a horse and teaches Diné bizaad words for body parts.
An NACF Artist Fellowship in Film will support her work finishing “BaaBaa,” the final in her trilogy of Navajo films for children. The film will talk about how important it is for communities to pass traditional knowledge on to the youth, so that they can become the elders of the next generation. Henry has received a National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant, a Sundance Institute fellowship and won the People’s Choice award in the PBS Online Film Festival.