AWI Short Film Competition

Sunset Special (trailer)

A young Diné woman struggles with the process of burying her recently deceased father on the reservation. The cultural Diné taboo surrounding death keeps her from properly grieving as it has been overrun by funeral homes and mortuaries preying on the vulnerable. She envisions a newer and ancient way of respectfully laying her father to rest while grappling with the realities of a quick talking casket salesman.

Content heads-up: Depiction of the loss of a father, anti-Indigenous racism, misogyny

Director: David Telles and Marlena Robbins

Marlena Robbins is Diné (Navajo) from the Yeii Dine’e Táchii’nii (Giant Red Running into Water People) clan and grew up in Window Rock, AZ. She holds a master’s degree from Arizona State University in American Indian Studies – Indigenous Rights and Social Justice. She has served as the tribal liaison and cultural consultant for projects including Rez Ball, for El Ray Network – a short documentary about the Chinle Wildcats basketball team located on the Navajo reservation. She is the writer, producer and an actor in the short film Sunset Special, which advocates for the return to the traditional Navajo burial practice. Marlena is currently a doctoral student at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health.

Mr. Telles is a Chicano filmmaker from Oakland, CA. He began his career working in documentary film and directing music videos for local Bay Area rap artists. Both mediums continue to influence his work today as a writer/director. David believes that stories can be medicine. He strives to make art that challenges the status quo and provides a decolonized perspective on culture, identity and issues of social justice.