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The Importance of Being Earnest

Documentarian Lori Joyce exposes Idaho and beyond.

Lori Joyce in India during the filming of Tribe All.

Lori Joyce in India during the filming of Tribe All.

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When Lori Joyce decided to follow her heart into storytelling through film, she didn’t take the traditional route of film school, a swim with the sharks in Hollywood, a home in the California hills . . .

Instead, while reporting television entertainment news, she stayed late to act as an understudy in the bowels of editing bays, pondering how to reconcile her working life with something that sated her need to change people’s lives.

“What was going on in front of the camera was all so superficial and, in the end, unimportant,” she recalls.

It was also the ’80s and Joyce remembers that particular time as a moment of self-questioning and wondering what happened to the seemingly forgotten idealism of the ’60s, when she and others were so captured by the passion of the peace movement.

“It was something that happened to a lot of us,” she says. “We asked, ‘What are we doing?’”

Joyce’s answer was to make documentaries that aligned with her strong beliefs and values. Among them are The Journey of Sacagawea, which aired on public television and received an Emmy nomination. Although she now has a number of films under her belt, and a Peabody award, the film remains her favorite.

Joyce “felt a connection to Sacagawea throughout the making of the documentary. She was 16 years old with a newborn baby and 31 men. That is amazing to me.”

Joyce also feels a strong connection to Native American stories in general.

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