Klee Benally, Lead Guitarist & Vocalist Joins Film Co-Director to Perform Before Film

January 15, 2018 – St. George, UT– [email protected] kicks off its 3rd season of monthly documentary films on January 26th with a free screening of Blackfire: A Modern Warcry, a film documentary which provides a fascinating look at a Navajo Punk Rock band, whose music speaks to issues ripped right from the headlines – the fight to preserve sacred lands and the heritage and culture of native peoples in the Americas. The film was co-directed by Judea Runs Through, when she was a student in the Dixie State University Film Program. Judea, herself, is from the Assiniboine/Nakota tribe. Klee Benally performs at 6 P.M. with the film screening starting at 7 P.M.


The kickoff of the season also includes a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dixie State University Film Program, which takes place on January 25 at the DSU Film Studios. Both events are free, but reservations are required for the film screening because of capacity limitations. Reservations and information about both events can be found at https://docutah.com/blackfire-a-modern-warcry/

“I became interested in native music, because Blackfire was my brother’s favorite band and creating a documentary about it seemed a way to expose this talent to a larger audience. But the scope of the film changed for me and my co-director, Zak Ciotti, when I saw how the messages in Blackfire’s music were affecting young native people,” said Judea. “We wanted to focus on what they were doing as activists for their community, not only on the Navajo/Dine reservation but also for the issues which affect all native peoples.”

Fighting for truth, justice, and the Native American Way, the Navajo punk band, Blackfire, rocked the world for 20 years. Their mix of traditional vocalization and electric guitars is internationally embraced. Nationally they have been recognized for the quality of their music, receiving NAMMY’s for ‘Record of the Year’, ‘Group of the Year’, and ‘Best Pop/Rock Album.’

“The DSU Film Program allows students to produce professional high quality documentary films. We are proud to kick off our 2018 season of [email protected] with Blackfire and to have Klee come to the theater to allow our audience to hear him perform some of the music which made the band famous and feel the energy and passion it evokes,” said Phil Tuckett, Professor of Digital Film and Executive Director, DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival at Dixie State University.

In a 2010 interview with the band, NPR noted, “What do you get when you mix Navajo culture, social activism and punk rock grooves? The answer: Blackfire. Founded nearly twenty years ago, Blackfire is made up of three siblings who describe their music as “indigenous high-energy political rock slash punk.”

In that interview, Klee Benally commented, “When we first started playing music, we really didn’t intend on, you know, a specific genre. But when we first heard punk music like the Subhumans, the Dead Kennedys, The Ramones, Crass, [and] we could connect not only to the energy and the rawness, but [also] the fact that there was political content. There was a message there that was being driven by emotional content we could connect to. And growing up, [we were] faced with addressing forced relocation, faced with environmental degradation and hardly anybody outside of our own community was talking about these issues. So, in order to challenge, to confront, and expose these issues, we chose to put it out there.”

At home, where they use the income from their music to fund youth programs and a community center, they are at best taken for granted. At worst, they are viewed as rebels in their fight against what they see as corporate greed and the desecration of sacred grounds.

Judea commented that she hopes the film will help others understand that “our temples are not in buildings,” and that places like Bears Ears and the Snow Bowl are being desecrated. “I always wonder why taking care of the earth makes you radical. We all need air to breath and places to get food. We need that. It all comes from the environment.”

About DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival

DSU DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival™ celebrates the art of documentary filmmaking. The 2018 Festival runs from September 3- 8 and includes DOCtalk sessions and gala events The Festival takes place every September on the Campus of Dixie State University and offers a week of entertaining films from all over the world, as well as year-round programs including monthly [email protected] film screenings, all of which provide creative, cultural, and educational engagement. DOCUTAH also offers students at DSU an enhanced education and easy access to the Festival. (read more)

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