Sundance Film Review: This May Be The Last Time

Posted January 24, 2014 in
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Photo: Sundance Institute

This May Be the Last Time
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Sterlin Harjo

Director Sterlin Harjo premiered his first documentary This May Be the Last Time at the Sundance Film Festival this year. The narrative is comprised of two stories, a memoir of his grandfather’s disappearance told with a soundtrack of mournful hymns, and the origins of American music. The Muskogee hymns have always been under Harjo’s skin. As a member of the Seminole and Muscogee (Creek) tribes from Holdenville, Oklahoma, Harjo knew he would share his story of growing up with sorrowful and hopeful hymns, the same hymns that the Seminole community would sing while looking for the body of his grandfather, and as far back as the Trail of Tears (the tribe’s forced relocation.) “There was a cultural mashup,” says Harjo. “No one knows exactly how it happened.” Native American, African American and Anglo music came together, “Through worshipping with each other, a specific style of singing was born and survived,” Harjo explains, “The Muskogee Creek Hymns were the first real American music.” Passed down through songs and memoirs, oral tradition is a strong part of Native American culture, and through telling personal stories, younger generations experience the wisdom of their elders. Film seems like a natural medium to Harjo: “Film is a part of oral tradition—that’s how people learn. They need to experience things for themselves,” he says. Harjo sharpened his skills in the Sundance Institute’s Film Lab, which gave him “confidence to find his own voice,” he says. This Will Be the Last Time is his third film premiering at Sundance Film Festival, but his most nerve-racking one. Sharing the story of his grandfather’s disappearance in Sasakwa, Oklahoma in 1962, and other personal stories of his family, this film gives insight into a small community that supported each other through a difficult time, both physically and spiritually.

Screenings:

Time: 1.24 9 PM Venue: Temple Theatre, Park City
Time: 1.25 6 PM Venue: Sundance Resort Screening Room, Sundance Resort

Photos: