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Winner of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 1985, Broken Rainbow tells the heartbreaking story of the mistreatment of Native Americans at the hands of the U.S. government. Beginning in the 1970s, over 12,000 Navajos were forced off their land in northeastern Arizona to make way for greedy companies that stood to profit from exploiting the natural energy resources. Narrated by actor Martin Sheen, this moving and beautiful documentary will not soon be forgotten.
Broken Rainbow was directed by anthropologist Victoria Mudd, who also produced, wrote and edited the film along with Maria Florio, a graphic designer. It was the first foray into filmmaking for both Mudd and Florio through their newly formed company Earthworks Films. The documentary uses interviews, archival footage, photographs and clips from old Hollywood Westerns to help illustrate the plight of the Navajos. It is a passionate call to action for all those who sympathize with the injustice.
Broken Rainbow also prominently features an original title song written and performed by musician Laura Nyro set against the backdrop of the breathtaking natural landscapes of Arizona.
Among the many positive reviews the documentary received was one from Walter Goodman of The New York Times who wrote, "In succumbing to the fashion for idealizing an underclass, the movie makers call their own good sense and judgment into question. The Navajo case, as presented here, is forceful enough not to require foolish embellishment. You don't have to romanticize a people's traditions to defend them against being kicked around. "We don't count," one woman says, summing up only too accurately her people's experience with Washington. Broken Rainbow created out of passionate commitment and composed with loving care, compels us to see that experience through Indian eyes."
Producer: Maria Florio, Victoria Mudd
Director: Maria Florio, Victoria Mudd
Screenplay: Maria Florio, Victoria Mudd, Lisa Sonne
Cinematography: Baird Bryant, Frederick Elmes, Victoria Mudd, Tony St. John, Joan Weidman
Music: Rick Krizman, Fred Myrow
Film Editing: Maria Florio, Victoria Mudd
Cast: Martin Sheen (Narrator), Buffy Sainte-Marie (voice), Burgess Meredith (voice), Laura Nyro (voice), Mark Andrews (Himself).
by Andrea Passafiume