Two Navajo Filmmakers Tackle Immigration in Documentary

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Two filmmakers from Arizona say they’re producing a documentary that looks at the impact the nation’s current immigration laws have on local families. The two young men, who happen to be members of the Navajo Nation, say their documentary will be centered around a Mexican man who sought sanctuary in a Tucson church soon after he was placed in deportation proceedings.


“This is such a controversial issue that it deserves more than just two minutes in a newscast,” Colton Shone explained in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“When we hear about native issues they're so different from what many immigrants face and they don’t really overlap,” said Shone. He said his documentary will present both sides of the story with no agenda.


The two filmmakers both work in local news in Tucson and have landed an impressive list of interview subjects. Daniel Neroy Luis, the Mexican man who’s claimed sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church is prominently featured in a preview of the documentary that is still in production. Rep. Raúl Grijalva's (D-Ariz.) and the controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio are also seen in the preview video hosted on the filmmakers’ crowd funding page on Kickstarter.

Shone, 25, along with his producer and cinematographer Jonathan Dineyazhe say they’ll offer a perspective from a community that doesn’t regularly speak out about immigration.

“Being native it’s a perspective that you don’t really hear from,” said Dineyazhe, 25.


Dineyazhe grew up on Navajo tribal land and says he’s become friends with many Latinos since moving to Tucson.

“Being here I’ve become friends with a lot Hispanics and I’m closer to the issue,” says Dineyazhe, referring to the passage of anti-immigrant legislation like SB1070 in his state.


As Native Americans, the filmmakers say they may be able to bring both sides of the debate closer together, but they say they have another goal too.

“We don’t see many documentaries by native filmmakers out there and we hope that we inspire others in our community too,” Shone said.

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