Sci-fi drama tells story of culture

The promotional poster for "Legends From The Sky", directed by Travis Holt Hamilton.
Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum

“Legends From The Sky” is an independent American Indian film that focuses on the significance of self-acceptance while recognizing cultural upbringing. With a touch of science fiction added to the mix, it becomes a film that leaves a taste of excitement and thrills for audiences of all ages.

The film is set on the modern day Navajo Reservation and tells the story of Lyle, an American Indian veteran who returns to his homeland, only to find his life in shambles when his grandfather goes missing after an unexplainable occurrence. It becomes Lyle’s mission to discover the whereabouts of his grandfather while uncovering the truth behind a mysterious federal organization that took over his grandfather’s land.

The film is directed by Travis Holt Hamilton, who is known for writing and producing a number of American Indian themed films, including “Turquoise Rose”, “Blue Gap Boyz”, and “More Than Frybread.”

Like his previous films, the storytelling is imaginative with heavy focus on characters driven by their ambitions. It emphasizes on the appreciation of life, history, and self-esteem. Every journey requires a little effort, but reaching the goals at the end makes the determination worthwhile. The same can be said about putting a movie together, according to Hamilton.

“This film was a challenge. [As a film crew], we were determined to make something our best,” said the 37-year-old director from Twin Falls, Idaho. “I’ve been [shooting film] for 15 years, and looking back, it’s good to see progress. We’re not perfect yet, but we’re still moving forward and pushing for quality stories and production.”

Ernest Tsosie III who was featured in Hamilton’s previous films plays the character Tom, a government conspirator. The cast also includes James Bilagody, Mia Sable, and first time actor, Edsel Pete, who plays the persistent Lyle in search of his grandfather.

The film was shot around the southwest and implemented the native culture as a backdrop to the story. According to Hamilton, shooting on Indian land influenced the narrative with positive results.

“I thought native country would be a good background for a science fiction movie,” he said. “Native culture is something that interested me as a kid. I learned about history from different communities and incorporated a lot of legends to guide the story along. I am still experimenting on a lot of things, but the benefit is seeing the progress. That’s what I learned jumping from genre to genre.”

Hamilton stated that being called a filmmaker makes him uncomfortable since he is still learning as he goes. He specified that his first number of projects were good practice, paving the way for something superior.

But with five feature films under his belt, its evident superiority comes from resolute effort. According to Hamilton, there is always room for improvement when it comes to art and storytelling.
“I’m not native, but I love telling stories that can happen anywhere. I go by a lesson a sculptor told me. He talked about how he wanted to fix a sculpture he previously did. But you need to be able to see the progress from the first one in order to move onto the next one. When you can do that with your art, you can keep that improvement in your perspective.”

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