I had the good fortune of meeting the Navajo, Hopi, and Laguna Pueblo filmmaker Billy Luther in my career as a journalist and media maker. I am long familiar with his work and aspirations in the film industry and have meant to review his 2011 film “Grab” for some time.
In case you ever missed it, it’s available now.
I happily purchased the film on Amazon Prime to not only support Luther, but to finally sit down and watch the film.
Here is my review.
A note about my #NativeNerd scoring system
When reviewing movies, I employ the decimal system to a tenth of a point. So instead of 7 stars, I might give a 7.4 out of 10. Some movies aren’t an eight but deserve a little more than a seven.
9.0 out of 10
My quick quote: “Luther takes the viewer on a wonderfully immersive dive into the lives of Laguna Pueblo families who devote months of their lives in order to give back to their own communities and uphold traditions.”
Synopsis: A look at the little-documented Grab Day in the villages of the Laguna Pueblo tribe, who annually throw water and food from the rooftop to people standing below.
Before watching this 55-minute film by Billy Luther, which was narrated by actress Parker Posey (“Lost in Space,” “Blade: Trinity”), I had little knowledge about the annual Grab Day celebration many Laguna Pueblo families celebrate in honor of any family members named after a Saint. The grab day is held on the particular saint’s day for each family.
But in addition to showcasing the journeys of five families to include the Carrillo, Seymour, Touchin, Poncho and Allen families as well as elder residents at the Rainbow Elderly Center, Luther also describes the histories of the Laguna Pueblo people.
The film highlights the fact that the Laguna Pueblo were a community responsible for one of the most successful uprisings in history to oppressors that sought to banish their traditions, but also tells the story of how the community also embrace and intermingle religion in order to give back to their community.
There are hard truths to embrace, such as the empty promises connected to the railroad lines that go through the reservation, and that traditional gifts are not as common as boxes of cereal or macaroni and cheese, but the message of giving and the strength and resilience of the community is the strongest message.
Things that really stuck out to me were the countless months, weeks, days and hours spent preparing for something to be given away — including some of the most beautifully handmade and intricately detailed pottery I have ever seen — the sentiment of embracing water and not running from it when it is going to land on you, and the thought that being able to give to your community is the real gift.
A beautiful film if you haven’t yet seen it, and even though it is from 2011, it doesn’t lose the importance of the message. According to a few of the reviews on Amazon Prime, the grab day events were put on hold due to COVID, so maybe this could also serve as a reminder to the strength, beauty and giving nature of the Laguna Pueblo families.
Now available on Amazon Prime.
Rental $1.99, purchase $7.99