Dustinn Craig’s voice is cracking and he is having a hard time getting the words out. Five minutes into the film “I Belong to This” Craig, the focus of the film, is breaking down into tears. The emotion draws in the audience and it becomes evident that this isn’t a normal, informative, documentary.
This is, however, what to expect in a film from Craig, an Apache filmmaker from Arizona. The thing about Craig that sets him apart from others is how much he genuinely cares about his work. This is evident in the emotion that pours from him through the camera.
“Every film that I have done has pulled me in, in some form or another,” says Craig.
“Making these films is a very emotional experience because I invest so much of myself in it.”
For him, there is a choice every filmmaker must make before starting production. Some films are created for entertainment; others are created for a deeper more important reason. Craig chooses to create films that will positively affect all Native Americans.
“Creating a superficial film…that’s easy,” says Craig.
“Creating an honest film that really strives to include a voice that is not acknowledged is very hard.”
Currently, Craig is putting forth a lot of effort in giving Native Americans a stronger voice through film. This is one of the main goals in the upcoming series We Shall Remain, to be seen on American Experience in January 2009.
The series, co presented by WGBH and NAPT, is expected to be one of the highest profile Native projects ever seen on PBS. Craig recently produced and directed one part of the five part series. He realizes that this is a great opportunity for Native films to be viewed on a national level.
“Within America, our little Native American communities are marginal,” says Craig.
“It is very emotional, because you are striving to retain the integrity of a voice that is seldom heard.”
Once again, Craig’s job as a filmmaker will be hitting close to home.
“I have a responsibility,” says Craig, “Not only as a filmmaker, but as a Native filmmaker to treat the material I am given with the utmost respect.”
In the future, Craig intends on continuing to make films that involve the interests of Native Americans. Craig feels there are enough untold Native stories to create an abundant amount of films.
“Just within my little community of Apaches I feel that there (is) a lifetime supply of stories that I could work towards creating.”
“I am not in a short supply of content.”
Another reason for staying with Native films is his sense of loyalty. He wants to continue to help give his people a voice.
“This community, in the larger context of America, is so under represented,” says Craig.
“Perhaps I even feel a responsibility to communities like mine.”
It is obvious that personal emotion is a very important part of what Dustinn Craig does for a living. Each film he is a part of means more to him than a job completed. It is an important part of his life. This is why his films are so important to him. This is why they are so much more than just informative documentaries.
By Zach Oliva