In July 2012, director Erica Scharf gave POV an update on three teens from the documentary Up Heartbreak Hill.
Where are Thomas and Tamara today?
Thomas spent his fourth summer working as a facilitator at Wings of America, leading running camps for Native youth ages 6-8. He is planning to go back to college in the near future and is considering UNM and Diné College.
Tamara came back to Navajo from Fort Lewis due to the financial strain the distance placed on her family. She is taking classes at UNM Gallup and will receive her Associate’s degree in December 2012. She is transferring to UNM Albuquerque where she will pursue her Bachelor’s in Information Technologies. She is also raising her son, who will turn one in August.
Many Native teens do ultimately choose to return home after attending schools that are far away. There are many reasons for this. For some, the decision is financial, while others miss their families and communities and have difficulty adjusting to a radically different environment.
In a video on our website, we met another teen, Gabby, who wanted to be a photographer. Where is Gabby today?
Gabby is taking time off from school and living with friends in Arizona. Her parents are encouraging her to begin taking classes again soon. She has moved away from photography and is focusing on drawing.
What’s changed in Navajo, NM, since the events of the film?
A recent proposal by the Gallup McKinley School District to shut down schools in Navajo sparked outrage and protest in the community. Just recently, the decision was made to keep the schools open. Much else is the same in Navajo.
Has the documentary screened in Navajo? How did residents react to seeing themselves on film?
The film screened at the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, about 30 minutes from the town of Navajo. The response was incredibly positive, with many in the audience knowing and identifying with the film’s subjects or even glimpsing themselves on screen. Audience members told Thomas and Gabby, who were on hand to answer questions, what an inspiration they were and Navajo Pine High School teachers asked for advice on how to better guide students as they approached graduation. The consensus was that the film provided an honest portrait of life in Navajo and an intimate look at the issues this young generation is grappling with.