Noah is a graduating senior in danger of not graduating. He shows no interest in school and schoolwork; instead, he finds happiness playing marathon sessions of Fortnight. His greatest joy is beating other kids with souped-up gaming systems and dominating them on his Nintendo Switch and crappy internet signal.
Scenes From The Glittering World is a beautiful film and amply features the sweeping vistas of the Diné community—a homesteader’s dream. Though not all the homes have running water, internet, or electricity, the community by no means could be described as desolate, but it reminds me of the small towns I see in remote parts of the country.
There’s a noticeable level of disappointment in the overall tone of the film. The school is staffed by good-hearted teachers, who clearly struggle to pass on the joy of learning to their students. The film opens as the school’s maintenance crew has to recover over a dozen basketballs, volleyballs, and shuttlecocks from the gym ceiling. At the all-school assembly, the principal has to remind the kids about respecting their campus.
“…presenting a big problem that exists in both indigenous and immigrant cultures.”
Another said moment is when they look at the overall grades of the student body to see a large percentage of failing grades. News comes down that the Navajo Mountain is classified as a failing school. The staff is at a loss in figuring out the answer.
Education is not the issue of the documentary. It hits on the harsh realities of a community walking briskly down the road of cultural extinction. As I’ve seen the disappearance and gentrification of Chinatowns across North America, I found myself sympathetic to the existential plight of the Diné community. Along with receiving a formal American education, an older Navajo teacher is on staff to teach their language and traditions. The question is just how much this teacher’s efforts stick in students already uninterested in their education.
Scenes From The Glittering World does a great job of presenting a big problem that exists in both indigenous and immigrant cultures. How does one keep the rapidly growing and changing American culture from enveloping one’s heritage? Yes, one could find fault in Western colonization, but at the same time, we have to recognize that it’s bigger than that with our children as they move away and are reluctant to return. Jakins shows that struggle in the lives of these very young people.
Scenes From The Glittering World screened at the 2021 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival.
"…shows that struggle in the lives of these very young people."