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A Conversation with Sterlin Harjo

  • Broadcast in Entertainment
Neyom Friday

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Sterlin Harjo belongs to the Seminole and Creek Nations, and is a native of Holdenville, Oklahoma. Interested from an early age in visual art and film, Harjo studied painting at the University of Oklahoma before writing his first feature-length script. Since then he has studied screenwriting in the University of Oklahoma's Film and Video Studies Program and under the Sundance Institute's Feature Film Program. In '04, Sundance Institute selected Harjo to receive an Annenberg Fellowship which provided extended support over a two-year period to facilitate the creation of his feature project. In '06 Harjo was in the first class of United States Artists award recipients. He was also the youngest recipient. Harjo completed a year of development on his feature film script FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND through the Sundance Institute’s Filmmaker Labs where he worked under the guidance of industry veterans such as Robert Redford, Stanley Tucci, Joan Tewkesbury, Susan Shilliday, Frank Pierson, Walter Mosley, and Antonia Bird. Sterlin’s project was one of 12 projects chosen from a pool of almost 2,500 based on the uniqueness of his voice, the originality of his story and the promise of this feature film offering something poignant to American cinema. Harjo has directed three short films CROOKED LITTLE HEART, THEY'RE PLAYING HIS SONG, and GOOD NIGHT IRENE which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 05 and has went on to play festivals around the world. The short film has garnered Harjo awards including Special Jury Recognition at the Aspen Shorts Festival, Best Oklahoma Film at the Dead Center film festival in Oklahoma City. In January '07 Harjo’s first feature film, FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The film garnered warm responses from both audience’s and critics. Tamara Podemski won a Special Jury Prize for outstanding performance for her role in the film as Miri Smallhill. Harjo’s film BARKING WATER premiered at the '09 Sundance Film Festival.