When Your Hands Are TiedNov 15th, 2007 | By mthompson | Category: 19-2: Our Story, Our Way, Media Reviews
Directed and produced by Mia Bocella Hartle
Co-producer: Marley Shebala
Bocella Productions, LLC (2006)
Review by Michael Thompson
It is a rare film indeed that tells any story of Indian people with true honesty. But filmmaker Mia Boccella Hartle has nailed that hard target with her spirited and uplifting documentary, When Your Hands Are Tied.
The filmmaker explores the lives of real Native young people struggling in their everyday lives “to walk in two worlds” – to balance respect for tribal traditions while embracing in their own individual ways contemporary creative passions.
These mostly traditional Pueblo, Diné, and Apache teens from the Southwest are also breakdancers, punk rockers, rappers, and multi-media artists. Their message, shared up close and personal, is that it is possible to honor tradition and still express oneself as a modern young person.
Funded by the Harber Charitable Foundation and shown in Albuquerque during the Gathering of Nations, the film has been well-reviewed in Indian country and invited to numerous film festivals.
Bocella Hartle intersperses interviews with Native teens and young adults with traditional mentors – a young Navajo medicine man, the governor of Nambe Pueblo, a director of American Indian studies – as well as Native people who are role models at balancing the modern and traditional worlds: Navajo rapper Mistic, singer Radmilla Cody, the Navajo punk rock band Blackfire (whose “alternative” messages address environmental issues and human rights), and Apache skateboard artist Douglas Miles, among others.
Co-producer Marley Shebala (Diné) has said she hopes that children who see the film will say, “I’ll learn my language, I’ll know who I am, and I’ll know the beauty of my people.” Available free to groups and individuals. Highly recommended.
For more information about the film, log on to www.whenyourhandsaretied.org. Michael Thompson (Mvskoke Creek) is the English chair at Bloomfield High School in New Mexico and a speaker on contemporary Native literature.