Jan 19, 2024 - News

Sundance documentary spotlights University of Utah medical student

Jenna Murray. Courtesy: University of Utah Health.

A University of Utah medical student is at the center of a 2024 Sundance Film Festival short documentary.

Details: "Winding Path" follows 28-year-old Jenna Murray, who is Eastern Shoshone, and her journey through medical school as she copes with the death of her grandfather.

  • The 9-minute documentary recounts Murray's summers with her grandfather, who lived on the sprawling Wind River Indian Reservation.

Catch up quick: From a young age, Murray told Axios Salt Lake City, she noticed the health care disparities that existed in the reservation compared to large U.S. cities.

  • Those inequities were magnified in 2011 when Murray discovered it took almost an hour for an ambulance to arrive to help her grandfather, who had a heart attack.
  • By the time he got to the hospital, it was too late. "He really didn't have a chance," she said.
  • The event pushed her to pursue a career as a physician.

What they're saying: "In the city, there are hospitals and clinics everywhere," Murray said. "I don't really think I thought about the implications of that until after my grandpa's death."

  • The film also highlights her participation in the university's Native American Summer Research Internship (NARI) program designed for Indigenous students. There, she researched substance use and recovery science.

Context: The documentary is among 53 shorts accepted into this year's Sundance Film Festival, competing against more than 12,000 submissions.

Of note: In collaboration with the university, "Winding Path" was co-directed by Alexandra Lazarowich, who won Sundance's Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing in 2019, and Academy Award-winning filmmaker Ross Kauffman. It was produced by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Robin Honan.

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