Sterlin Harjo is a Native American movie producer, director, and documentary filmmaker. He is a member of the Seminole Nation and has Muskogee heritage. He was raised in Holdenville, Oklahoma and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied art and film.
After receiving a fellowship from the Sundance Institute in 2004, his short film, "Goodnight, Irene," premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and received a special jury award at the Aspen Shortfest. The following year, he received a fellowship from the newly formed United States Artists foundation.
Harjo's first feature film, "Four Sheets to the Wind," premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and tells the story of a young Seminole man who travels from his small hometown to Tulsa to visit his sister after the death of their father. This film was nominated for the grand jury prize. Harjo was also named best director at the 2007 American Indian Film Festival.
Harjo's second feature, "Barking Water," premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. It portrays a road trip by a dying man and his former lover across Oklahoma to see his daughter and granddaughter in Wewoka, Oklahoma — the capital of the Seminole Nation. "Barking Water" was named best drama film at the 2009 American Indian Film Festival.
Harjo's first feature documentary, "This May Be the Last Time," premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and is based on the story of Harjo's grandfather, who disappeared in 1962 in the Seminal County town of Sasakwa, Oklahoma. It explores the subject of Creek Nation hymns and their connection to Scottish, folk, gospel, and rock music.
His third feature film, "Mekko," a thriller set in Tulsa, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June 2015. Mekko paints the portrait of a homeless Native American parolee who seeks to save his chaotic yet beautiful community from the darkness that threatens it.
Harjo’s fourth feature film, "Love and Fury," follows Native artists as they navigate their careers in the U.S. and abroad. The film explores the immense complexities each artist faces of their own identity as Native artists, as well as advancing Native art into a post-colonial world.
Harjo has also directed a number of short-form projects. His 2009 short film "Cepanvkuce Tutcenen" (Three Little Boys) was part of the Embargo Collective project commissioned by the imagineNative Film + Median Arts Festival. He has directed a series of shorts for This Land Press in Tulsa, where Harjo is the staff video director. Harjo is a founding member of a five-member Native American comedy group, The 1491s.
Harjo has been appointed to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and wrote and produced a series for FX called 'Reservation Dogs' with Taika Waititi in 2021.
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