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Bennie KlainBennie Klain (Navajo)

Bennie Klain, director of documentaries and short fictions, is a co-founder of TricksterFilms, in Austin, Texas. His most recent documentary, Columbus Day Legacy, received a National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant in 2007 and a post-production grant from the Texas Filmmakers’ Production Fund in 2008. He was selected to participate in Tribeca All Access in 2007 for the development of the film. Klain’s documentary Weaving Worlds was televised nationally on PBS and won several film festival awards, including Best Documentary Feature at the Black Hills Film Festival and runner-up for the Rigoberta Menchu Prize for Social Justice Films at the First People’s Festival in Montreal. Klain’s short fiction Share the Wealth had its world premiere at the 2006 Native American Film + Video Festival and earned the Platinum Remi Award at WorldFest in Houston. In 2009 it was broadcast as part of the PBS series The Territory. In 2004 Klain was a Sundance Institute/Ford Foundation Film Fellow in scriptwriting.

A fluent Navajo speaker, Klain often incorporates the language into his work. He was co-producer and worked as a translator for the award-winning documentary The Return of Navajo Boy (d. Jeff Spitz), which premiered at Sundance and screened at more than sixty festivals. The film was broadcast by PBS on the ITVS independent documentary series Independent Lens. In 2008 the film was shown on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with a revised epilogue designed to spur public discussion about the environmental impacts of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation. It was a selection for the indigenous film showcase at the 2010 Amiens International Film Festival in France.

Klain serves on the advisory board for Ciné las Americas International Film Festival in Austin. He has worked as a mentor to both Hispanic and Native American youth, teaching classes in filmmaking and radio production. Before turning his attention to filmmaking, he produced Windsongs, a Native American music program nationally syndicated by AIROS/American Indian Radio on Satellite. He also anchored the award-winning daily Navajo language newscasts at radio station KTNN-FM on the Navajo reservation, and helped produce live broadcasts by KTNN from NMAI in New York at the opening of the 1997 exhibition “Woven by the Grandmothers.”

Klain has a BS from the radio, television & film department at the University of Texas at Austin. He was born in Tuba City, Arizona, and now resides in Austin.

Work featured: Columbus Day Legacy