A preteen sent to live on his grandma’s homestead on the Navajo Nation has his life changed with the help of his remarkable cousin, in Billy Luther’s funny and touching debut, executive produced by Taika Waititi.



Frybread Face and Me

Billy Luther

It’s the start of summer, 1990, and all 11-year-old Benny can think about is seeing Fleetwood Mac in his hometown of San Diego. Obsessed with Stevie Nicks and his dolls (“action figures,” he reminds us), Benny’s dreams are derailed when his parents surprise him with the news they’re sending him to his grandma’s on the Navajo Nation.

A lifelong city kid, Benny is a fish out of water in the rural northern Arizona community. Grappling with feelings of abandonment, his initial isolation is enhanced by not being able to communicate with his loving, Navajo-speaking grandma (who has refused to ever learn English). Making matters worse is his bullying uncle Marvin, who sees Benny’s sensitivity as weakness.

But Benny’s summer takes a new twist when Dawn (a.k.a. Frybread Face), his bold and brashly confident cousin, is unexpectedly dropped off. Rarely seen without her beloved doll Jeff Bridges (she’s a massive Starman fan), Dawn is a force of nature unlike anything Benny has experienced. Having spent her life on the rez and able to speak Navajo, Dawn is Benny’s knowledgeable but often irascible guide. The connection between the cousins grows stronger until Benny’s city life once again beckons.

Executive produced by Taika Waititi, writer-director Billy Luther’s debut is not only a touching and refreshing coming-of-age story, but also a beautiful tribute to cultural awakening, unbreakable family bonds, and memories of childhood summers. Keir Tallman delivers a tender performance as Benny, while Charley Hogan is a true standout in her hilarious, poignant portrayal of the eponymous Frybread Face.


Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisory: homophobic language, bullying


Mon Sep 11

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