An acclaimed Navajo filmmaker was arrested Saturday on charges of sexual assault while in town for this year’s Durango Independent Film Festival, according to the Durango Police Department.
Durango Police Detective Josh Newman confirmed Sunday that Kody Dayish – a 29-year-old filmmaker from Shiprock, New Mexico – was in custody on suspicion of sexual assault in connection with an incident that occurred Friday.
Newman declined to comment further on the matter because it is an ongoing investigation. Dayish is being held on a $250,000 bond, according to a La Plata County Sheriff’s Office booking report.
Dayish was in Durango to show his 15-minute film, “Spared,” which according to the movie’s description, tells the tale of “two Navajo families (that) face the struggle of bullying, suicide and domestic violence while working with one another.”
Joanie Leonard, executive director of the Durango Independent Film Festival, said Dayish’s film had already played its two scheduled showing times by the time event organizers were made aware of the allegations.
The film played at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Gaslight Theatre and 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the Animas City Theatre.
However, both Dayish and his brother, Kolin, had their passes revoked once Leonard and other festival staff members learned of the incident.
“This is a horrible situation,” Leonard said Sunday. “We do not condone criminal behavior by anybody, especially violence against women.”
Leonard said she did not have any information on the incident other than that she heard the allegations were made.
Dayish, a 2006 Shiprock High School graduate who attended San Juan College in Farmington, has produced a number of award-winning short films and features over the past few years.
In 2010, he formed Kody Dayish Productions to spearhead this effort, with the help of his brother, Kolin, and sister, Kolette. At the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles in 2016, Dayish was named best Emerging First Time Director.
Dayish is also reportedly working on a film about Navajo Code Talkers in World War II, from the Navajo people’s point of view. He had planned to shoot the film in 2018, according to the Associated Press.
Calls and emails to Kody Dayish Productions were not returned Sunday.
Leonard said Dayish was one of 99 filmmakers in town this weekend for the event, which is in its 13th year.
“I’m shocked,” Leonard said. “You just don’t know how people are going to behave. It is not acceptable.”