Ramona D. Emerson is the recipient of TheWIFTS Best Short Film Award for Opal, a film that centers a young girl on a hill challenging the male perceived dominance of what they think she might be capable of.
Ramona D. Emerson (Navajo) is a filmmaker originally from Tohatchi, New Mexico. She received her degree in Media Arts in 1997 from the University of New Mexico (one of the first two graduates of the program) and has worked as a professional videographer, writer and editor for over thirteen years.
In 2012, Ramona and Reel Indian Pictures were funded for pre-production through Native American Public Telecommunications (Visionmaker Video) and the Public Media Fund for their newest documentary The Mayor of Shiprock. In the town of Shiprock, New Mexico, poverty and corruption have long been a struggle and as the Navajo Nation looks for leadership, it is met with scandal. To make a change, a young group of men and women are taking back their community – led by 22-year-old Graham Beyale. This is the story of how one vision toward the future can make a difference – inspiring a generation of leaders to make changes in their own communities. The Mayor of Shiprock is in the last throes of post-production.
Her screenplay, The Backroad, was one of the first 10 finalists at the Flicks on 66 Digital Shootout (now Duke City Shootout), in 2000. The film, which was shot and edited in six days, was awarded the Student Spirit Award at the Indian Summer Film Festival in 2003. Emerson, who also directed The Last Trek, has showcased her films around the country with her film A Return Home being funded through the All Roads Film Project and New Mexico Governor's Cup Short Documentary Competition in 2007.
She continues production on her documentary, Gambling with Our Future, which was funded through the 2008 New Visions / New Mexico Contract Awards. Ramona is also directing Hidden Talents, a documentary about Navajo mural painter James King Woolenshirt, with fellow Navajo filmmaker Nanobah Becker.
She is a member of the Native American Producers Alliance and in January 2009 was appointed to the New Mexico Governor's Council on Film and Media Industries. In May 2010, Ramona was selected for the Sundance Native Filmmakers Lab/Ford Foundation Fellowship with her screenplay Opal.
Production of Opal was completed in January 2012 and is currently in circulation and journey through film festivals around the world. Opal has won Best Short at the New Mexico Filmmakers Showcase and the Cowichan Aboriginal Film and Video Festival.
In 2012, Ramona and Reel Indian Pictures were funded for pre-production through Native American Public Telecommunications (Visionmaker Video) and the Public Media Fund for their newest documentary The Mayor of Shiprock, which is in the last throes of post-production.
Ramona and her husband, producer/actor/artist Kelly Byars (Choctaw) continue to produce films through their native-owned and operated film and video production company Reel Indian Pictures located in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Emerson also works as an editor and director of photography on other independent productions.