Hopi among lead characters in new film

A new film called “More Than Frybread” premiered yesterday at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Phoenix, Arizona. One of the film’s leading characters was Jennifer Joseph from Hotevilla.

In her recent article in the Navajo-Hopi Observer, Rosanda Suetopka Thayer writes:

HOTEVILLA, Ariz.-If there is one food product that is deeply coveted, savored and present at pretty much any reservation family or tribal gathering that is a shared, universally tribally made item, it’s “frybread.”

You know, the round, hot, greasy, fluffy and puffy deep fried piece of hand-tossed secret-recipe dough, that can be eaten plain or all dressed up with fresh chili beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, or chunks of slow simmered pork, something to dip into your stew or even just sprinkled with powdered sugar.

It’s one of those Native food taste sensations that you eat just once and then probably crave the rest of your life.

And the stories surrounding the creation of each piece of frybread varies, from dough recipes that have been handed down from grandmothers, or learned from a Native dorm aid when attending a boarding school, or even a secret recipe from your mother in-law, each frybread maker has a distinct recipe story to tell.

A new film by Holt Hamilton Productions, “More Than Frybread,” by an independent filmmaker out of Flagstaff, will premiere on Feb. 3 at Wild Horse Pass Casino in Phoenix with two separate showings at 7 and 10 p.m. Tickets will cost $9 in advance and will be $13 at the door. The film centers on the storyline of 22 Arizona tribal bread makers vying for an Arizona state title of “Frybread Champion” who have the opportunity to advance to a national frybread contest in New York City for a countrywide final bread competition.

The Holt Hamilton production is the fourth of its Native film series that utilize both current professional Native actors, and up and coming undiscovered new talent like Hopi tribal member Jennifer “Jonnie J” Joseph of Hotevilla. Joseph decided to try out for the part on a whim.

Joseph, 50, is a first time actor who interviewed for the part of “Betti Muchvo,” the Hopi competitor in the state wide frybread contest in the film, who had the opportunity to work with Native comedic Navajo pair “James and Ernie;” Mary Kim Titla, Apache, former news broadcaster; and Tatanka Means, Sioux stand up comedian, all longtime public personalities. Several other new Native actors join the cast.

The “Betti Muchvo” character that Joseph portrays wants to win the contest so badly, since she is known in the movie role at her Hopi home community for her “bread” and “beauty contests.” Muchvo is completely involved with the “pageantry aspect” of the contest. She is so sure she will win, she has her own frybread crown made that she wears through a large portion of the movie.

Read Thayer’s entire article at the following link: http://navajohopiobserver.com/m/Articles.aspx?ArticleID=14216

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