Discussion Guide

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Up Heartbreak Hill is a moving look at a new generation of Americans struggling to be both Native and modern. Thomas and Tamara are track stars at their rural New Mexico high school. Like many teenagers, they are torn between the lure of brighter futures elsewhere and the ties that bind them to home. For these teens, however, home is an impoverished town on the Navajo reservation, and leaving means separating from family, tradition and the land that has been theirs for generations.

Like all teens, these high school students grapple with forming identities that both separate them from and link them to their families. Their struggle provides audiences with a chance to examine an ironic twist on a very American tale about pursuit of success, where success requires thriving in a culture that was once bent on the annihilation of the pursuers' people. The result is a compelling illustration of the challenge to find comfort and strength amidst alienation and discrimination.

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