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FRYBREAD POWER: The mockumentary More Than Frybread premieres in OKC Friday night

Holt Hamilton / Special to Red Dirt Report
Tatanka Means as Buddy Begay in MORE THAN FRYBREAD, a film by Holt Hamilton.
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OKLAHOMA CITY - Director Travis Holt Hamilton is scared to tell who made him the best piece of frybread he’s ever had.

“The safest thing to say is that I love frybread and I’m not a very good judge because I can’t take sides,” he joked. “I’d be in trouble by everybody.”

But that idea of trying figure it out features prominently in his latest feature, More Than Frybread, starring Tatanka (A Million Ways to Die in the West) Means, Camille (Into the West) Nighthorse and Teresa M. Choyguha.

The Oklahoma City premiere of this Native American-centric comedy will be Friday night, December 12th at the Paramount, 701 W. Sheridan on Film Row, with showtimes at 6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Hamilton will be in attendance.

Even though Hamilton is not a Native himself, he has spent much of his life in Indian Country and it was the frequent arguments over “who made the best frybread” that fueled his script for the film, a mockumentary about twenty-two Native American frybread makers, representing all twenty-two federally recognized tribes in Arizona, convening in Flagstaff to compete for the first ever, first annual, state of Arizona Frybread Championship.

“I love frybread myself and I always catch friends arguing over who makes better frybread, or whose grandmother makes it the best,” Hamilton said. “I’ve realized that frybread is a big deal, and it’s not just one tribe, but it’s all over. I just wanted to make a mockumentary film for quite a while, and that subject of frybread and mockumentaries just tied in really nicely together.”

Drawing stylistic inspiration from the films of Christopher Guest, in particular Best in Show, the movie features over-the-top characters and situations as it hones in on four contestants who battle their way to compete for the title in the championship round.

“Most Native films are serious, heavy dramas, but in my interactions with Native Country, I have laughed so hard, so many times, there is so much laughter in Native Country,” Hamilton said. “It really just seemed like it was a good time to put out a film like this. I love to laugh and I love to see people laugh, I wanted to make a film that allowed people to get away from the stresses of the day, the hardships they’re going through, and spend a couple of hours with and really laugh. I really think it is a healthy thing to do.”

Described as “good clean humor,” the PG-rated film has received numerous accolades including Best Comedy at the Dreamspeakers Film Festival, Best Made-In-Arizona Film at the Sedona International Film Festival and Jury Commendation for Best Feature at the Durango Independent Film Festival. But even with those awards, the best feeling the film gives Hamilton are the responses he gets from the audience at each new venue it shows.

“We’ve screened the film on around fifty reservations in the U.S. and Canada and it’s been successful, but also with the non-Native crowd,” Hamilton said. “There’s definitely humor that’s across the board, but there’s also humor that’s very specific to a certain tribe…there’s stuff that is very regional, a lot of humor that non-Natives might not get, but then there’s a lot of stuff that kind of everybody gets. It’s fun watching the film in different locales and seeing who gets what. But I think people can come out expecingt to laugh whether you’re Native or non-Native.”

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Louis Fowler

Güicho. Gadfly. Chicano. Choctaw. Cristero. Freelancer. Leftist. Activist. Vilified. PKD....

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