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It's time again for the movie competition from Film Prize Jr. New Mexico


In New Mexico, an annual film competition showcases the works of rural and Native American middle and high school students. The prizes, if you win, include equipment grants for the schools and scholarships for the students.


Megan James is a Navajo teen who won both High School Drama and High School Grand Prize awards last spring for her short film "Deprived."

MEGAN JAMES: We need to fight for that representation to be accurately and respectfully represented in the media as the people we are.

ESTRIN: In her film, a young man is overwhelmed by a steady barrage of distressing news stories.


FADEL: The character is played by her brother, but the idea came from her own experience.

JAMES: One morning, I logged onto Twitter (laughter) and I just saw, like, someone had died, like, a famous artist. And then I go to my sister's room, and the news is playing in her room as well, and a shooting had just happened. And I went in my mom's room - basically, it was on a news channel saying that our world is, like, ending due to climate change.

FADEL: "Deprived" was one of 17 films from young Native American filmmakers at the 2023 festival.


JACOB JAMES: (As character) And I'm at such a low point. I tried. Like, I really tried to distract myself. It just made everything worse.

ESTRIN: Jaiya Daniels won Best Documentary for her personal storytelling.

FADEL: Daniels grew up as one of the few Black people in Los Alamos.

JAIYA DANIELS: My film is called "Sister Of The Circle: A Black Girl's Journey Through The Land Of Enchantment." It's basically a film just to showcase that Black girls, we're all diverse, you know, we're all different.

ESTRIN: Daniels grew up as one of the few Black people in Los Alamos.

DANIELS: I was often stereotyped as, like, aggressive, violent, too loud - either too loud or not loud enough. It was in between one of those two.

FADEL: She hopes people who sometimes feel out of place connect with her film.

DANIELS: I can watch my documentary, know that it's somewhere inspiring someone in New Mexico or not in New Mexico. I like having that impact on someone.

FADEL: The latest round of Film Prize Junior New Mexico launched last night at the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

(SOUNDBITE OF UNWED SAILOR'S "MAIS OUI") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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