This sympathetic, lyrical portrait of a self-described “Navajo lady sheepherder” details a solitary life on the reservation. A survivor of spousal abuse that occurred when she left the reservation as a young woman, Irene Bennalley has returned to her childhood home, where she has recovered her psychological and physical health.
She survives — despite isolation exacerbated by estrangement from jealous siblings, despite inhabiting land degraded by historic and ongoing overgrazing, and despite living in a ramshackle house. “I just kind of walked away the pain,” Bennalley says, reflecting on the difficult journey that’s brought her to a state of grace. First-time director Cat Cannon made Irene with support from a Mountainfilm Commitment Grant awarded in 2014.