There is a tension between immigrant and indigenous cultures and the massive beast of being “American.” As the son of immigrants, it’s not difficult to see the culture and traditions of my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents slipping away and in danger of being lost in my children. If I’m honest, I have to take much of the blame. Jared Jakins’ documentary feature, Scenes From The Glittering World, explores similar tensions in the lives of three teens who struggle to hold on to their Navajo heritage.
Scenes From the Glittering World takes place in the most remote school in the United States. Situated on the furthest fringes of the Navajo Nation, Jakins’ film follows the lives of students who attend Navajo Mountain High School. These students are members of the Diné community, and like their people, they are at a crossroads being the last few members with direct connections to community and traditions.
“…at a crossroads being the last few members with direct connections to community and traditions.”
Navajo Mountain High School is a mid-side high school with all the amenities of modern education. The school could easily accommodate one to two hundred students. Navajo Mountain’s enrollment is currently 30 students and a small but modest teaching staff. In one scene, the two basketball team members are told there will be no season because there are not enough players.
Jakins tells the story of three specific students as the narrative through-line. Ilii is a new freshman, having moved here from Las Vegas. She must navigate the uncertainty and anxiety of starting a new school, making new friends, and seek acceptance for being one of the lone queer students.
Granite is a 14-year-old, who’s younger brother recently passed. He struggles to find his lost happiness and meaning, and purpose in school and his community.
"…shows that struggle in the lives of these very young people."